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July 10 , 2009

Slouching Towards Kalamazoo

A Novel


It is 1963 in an unnamed town in North Dakota, and Anthony Thrasher is languishing for a second year in eighth grade. Prematurely sophisticated, young Anthony spends too much time reading Joyce, Eliot, and Dylan Thomas but not enough time studying the War of 1812 or obtuse triangles. A tutor is hired, and this "modern Hester Prynne" offers Anthony lessons that ultimately free him from eighth grade and situate her on the cusp of the American sexual revolution. Anthony's restless adolescent voice is perfectly suited to De Vries's blend of erudite wit and silliness—not to mention his fascination with both language and female anatomy—and it propels Slouching Towards Kalamazoo through theological debates and quandaries both dermatological and ethical, while soaring on the De Vriesian hallmark of scrambling conventional wisdom for comic effect.

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