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PUBLISH AND PERISH By: James Hynes February 17, 2010

Posted by lycan librarian in book reviews, Books and reading.

     Here at the Moonlit Library, there is an overflowing shelving cart full of short story collections that were pulled last week, but this one jumped out at me. PUBLISH AND PERISH is a twist on the academic term, publish or perish, which means that those who do not publish fare worse in the field than those who are paid for their wise words. There are but three satirical novellas in this 1997 collection, but they are all witty and creepy, have likeable characters, quick dialogue, and they all focus on the trials and politics which lead to either academic success or ruin (something which is, in itself, truly scary). 
     The first involves a married couple, tenure, an extra-marital affair, a very foul act, and a cat. Much of the plot can be imagined from just these few words, but there are also slightly surprising and very humorous twists and turns for the reader to navigate.
     The second story is about an unlucky cultural anthropologist who discovers his career being doomed is not the worst that can happen to him.
     The third tale involves a female history professor who must defend herself and her career against, of all things, sorcery.

     Admittedly, these are very brief synopses, but I would rather offer bare bones, than too thick a slice of the meat of the story, thereby ruining  the reading experience for you.

     This is a fun and highly imaginative book, and a nice departure from both hard-core fantasy and general fiction. But readers who like either or both genres will be satisfied by Hynes’ combinations of the two. This book was gifted to me by my friend, Charles, who never fails in finding and sharing the exact type of books that I savor. Possibly, it’s because they are the kind he likes best, too. Ah! Such friends are true treasures!



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