“Book Review: Professor Everywhere”
Reviewed by Joshua Ryan Bligh
At once a love letter to academia and a critique of intellectualism, Professor Everywhere takes familiar elements and packages them into something entirely new.
Chloe Chan is, understandably, disappointed in academia. The wonderland of knowledge and learned discussion was a lie, and instead university appears to be naught but inebriated students and dispassionate professors. Except for Professor Crannus, a genius, a puzzle, a charismatic guy who seems like the real deal.
Almost by chance, Chloe begins an internship with the enigmatic professor, and is pulled into a dimension-hopping adventure as she follows in Crannus’ wake. But can such an idyllic escapade last?
“Well, obviously. There’s no such thing as idyllic. Everything’s flawed. That’s what makes life interesting.”
Written in the form of a memoir-essay from the perspective of an older Chan who has survived an event referred to only as the Pimlico incident, the story comes in a unique package. Author Nicholas Binge peppers the narrative with citations of authors both fictional and real, lending the story an academic slant with formatted footnotes at the bottom of most pages.
This format may be the only point of contention in the story. The plot is air-tight and exceptionally well-paced, with events unfolding inevitability toward the Pimlico incident. Dialogue: slick. Chloe’s interactions with Crannus showcase Binge’s strong character-building, masterfully pushing the reader toward admiring Crannus while also keeping him just alien enough that we are not so swept us as Chloe is. But the academic side of it could give some readers pause.
To be clear, I was not one of those readers. I ate up each digression into the etymology of a word, I grinned as references were made to some of my favorite philosophers, and felt pleasantly cheated when I couldn’t read the fictional authors cited (some of those titles I’d love to spend a weekend pouring over).
It is something I have not come across before–less a novel than a fictional essay. I was agreeably surprised by this unique form. But, look beneath the onslaught of philosophy (from Plato to Stephen King) and the ostensible detours into word history (some of which are poignant and well-integrated into the story), and you can find a tale that deals with much less haute themes, such as struggling to overcome cynicism, betrayal, and the imperfection of being human.
By the end of the story, we are reminded that though nothing may be truly idyllic, there is nothing a healthy dose of curiosity and wonder cannot cure. Should these traits be allowed to fade into egotistical self-aggrandizement and neurotic idiosyncrasy, we might end up with something like the Pimlico incident, or at least an academic realm fettered with disillusion.
Professor Everywhere reminds us of many notions via parcels of wisdom sprinkled throughout its handful of pages; but, above all, it reminds us there is too much wonder in the world to let ourselves be bogged down by the failures of others to pursue it.
Publisher: Proverse Publishing
Paperback: 280 pages
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