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The headmaster ritual
Taylor Antrim
Adult Fiction ANTRIM

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Political radicalism, boarding school cruelty and the specter of a showdown with a nuclear North Korea fuel Antrim's debut novel with mostly winning results. Fleeing job and girlfriend disasters, Dyer Martin takes a job as a history teacher at the tony Britton School, an Andover-like boarding school run by Headmaster Wolfe, a 1960s radical-turned- preppy-fundraiser whose paranoia is displayed early and often. Wolfe's son, James, meanwhile, has been quietly attending Britton, but after his father forces him to move into the student dorm for his senior year, his fellow students haze the brainy and socially awkward young man. While James negotiates the stormy waters of adolescence (the centerpiece is his crush on a girl who may be romantically involved with a bully), an increasingly erratic Wolfe orders Dyer to take a team of students to the Model U.N. conference as representatives of North Korea. Dyer, however, is suspicious of Wolfe's motives, especially after he sees Wolfe covertly meet in the middle of the night with a mysterious Asian man. All is revealed at the conference, though the climax is marred by a chain of events that defies reason. Well-drawn characters and tight dialogue add appeal to Antrim's keenly observed satire. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In a first novel that mines the boarding-school genre, ForbesLife editor Antrim centers on James Wolfe, a bright senior with pitiable social skills, and Dyer Martin, a young first-year teacher with absolutely no experience who's not sure exactly why he was hired. Dyer and James share a connection through James's father, the school's headmaster and a political radical who may or may not support North Korean terrorists. The bulk of the narrative deals with the headmaster's manipulation of students and faculty to achieve his fanatical political goals. The book's real accomplishment, however, is the parallel personal development of Dyer and James and the effect each unwittingly has on the other. Most readers won't mistake Antrim for Tobias Wolff, but that doesn't mean the novel isn't a worthwhile selection, especially for younger readers. Recommended for high school and most general fiction collections.-Kevin Greczek, Trenton (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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more titles about

main characters Dyer Martin
History teacher at a boarding school; wants to put his past behind him; had a disastrous first job; recovering from a broken relationship.

Ed Wolfe
Headmaster for a boarding school; radical-turned-preppy.

James Wolfe
Wolfe's son; attending the boarding school his father works at; bullied at school; wants to survive his senior year; seeks his father's constant approval.

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