Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Staggerford by Jon Hassler

A simple synopsis of this book sounds very boring, but a longer synopsis is tough to flesh out. It's a week or so in the life of Miles, a high school English teacher in Staggerford, MN. Hassler uses selective repetition as part of his humor (example: Coach tells the same story about his wrestling lineup a few times--he seems incapable of thinking about anything else, and his obsession becomes funny through repetition). Miles has been teaching for twelve years, and it's starting to feel a bit on the futile side. He rents a room from the delightful Miss McGee, a spinster who teaches at the Catholic school and laments Miles's loss of faith. Beverly, a student from the wrong side of the tracks, is fixated on Miles, who is attempting to take his sort-of relationship with Imogene Kite to some other level. Call it a portrait of small-town life with a startling plot twist. I wasn't sure the ending, which is quite abrupt, was fair to the reader, but after some reflection, I think it's symbolic of small town life. There are several books in the Staggerford series, and I'm interested in returning to see what happens with the characters.

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