Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Eight must-read college novels

Sam Munson's writing has appeared in the New York Times and the Times Literary Supplement, among other venues. He is the former online editor of Commentary magazine. Munson graduated from the University of Chicago in 2003, and he lives in New York City.

The November Criminals, his first novel, came out in 2010.

One of Munson's eight must-read college novels, as told to The Daily Beast:
by Penelope Fitzgerald

Novels about scientists tend to be ponderous. But Penelope Fitzgerald, a brilliant and still-underappreciated British writer of mercurial wit, athletic intellectual versatility, and a psychological acumen that well bespeaks her brilliant and eccentric roots (daughter of Punch editor Edmund Knox; niece of theologian/crime writer Ronald and math genius/cryptographer Dillwyn) never wrote anything ponderous in her life. The Gate of Angels tells the strange, eventful story of Fred Fairly, a physicist and recent atheist, and Daisy Saunders, a nurse with an uncommonly strong character and mind. Fairly studies at the fictional Cambridge college of St. Angelicus, from whose grounds all females are forever banned; Daisy has just lost her job at a hospital. They meet in a violent rainstorm. The year is 1912. Physics—and, indeed, the rest of the world—stands at the cusp of an epochal change. Fairy tale, philosophical text, love story, work of perfect artifice: all of these terms (happily) apply.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Gate of Angels appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best angels in literature.

The Page 69 Test: Sam Munson's The November Criminals.

--Marshal Zeringue