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If you think that the fact that I’m writing about another book here means that I’ve finished Ulysses, you have more faith in me than you should. I am stalled somewhere near the midpoint. I needed a break and a welcome one came in the form of Lauren Grodstein’s An Explanation for Everything.


In previous posts I’ve mentioned that Lauren was my writing teacher in my first few post-college workshops. If you ever get the chance to take a workshop with her, I highly recommend it. Luckily, you don’t have to be enrolled in the MFA program at Rutgers-Camden (the program she helps run) in order to learn from her, though–you can read her books. Of course, it requires some meta-reading to learn about writing from a novel like The Explanation for Everything, because it is so absorbing that its bones aren’t the least bit exposed unless you’re looking for them.

For the third time out of three novels, Lauren writes this one from the p.o.v. of a man–Andy Waite, a biology professor at a small New Jersey college. He’s a staunch, evolution-driven atheist who finds himself challenged, on multiple levels, by a student named Melissa who asks to do an independent study with him on intelligent design. I don’t want to say too much more about the premise of the book so that I don’t hinder your opportunity to make discoveries as you read. I will say, though, that the narrative is both straightforward and unexpected. Lauren doesn’t employ any tricks or pull any manipulative moves; she tells an honest story and the reader–at least this one–is right there with her the whole time.  Read the rest of this entry »