by Scott J. Bloch
Three University of Kansas professors—Paul Courtney, Chester Whelan, and Frederick Marin—teach a popular but controversial course in humanities called The Humanities Integration Program, also known as HIP. Bernard Kennisbaum, an honors student in competition for the Fulbright Scholarship, is recruited by the school’s chancellor to attend the HIP program and divulge information about the teaching techniques of its professors. Using the Fulbright and the offer of a stipend as an incentive, the chancellor convinces Bernard to report on the activities of HIP. “We simply want your impressions of HIP, the teachers, students, the academics.” The proposition puts Bernard in the middle of the program and close to the Botticelli-like Apryl, with whom he is enthralled. Bernard becomes friends with students who are a part of HIP, and he uncovers more than he could have ever imagined.
This novel is an absolute joy to read. It is filled with references to great literature. Quotes from writers and thinkers such as Plato, Shakespeare, and Aristotle make their way into delightful puns. In fact, as Bernard progresses through the HIP courses, readers are taken back to those profound writings encountered during university studies. The plot is filled with surprising twists that keep readers interested until the end. Bloch is a master storyteller who has created an excellent work that makes the reader consider such questions as “What is truth?” and “What is the purpose of education?” His use of the classics in the conversations between students, usually in puns, is delightful. The lecture scenes are a nice review of those great thinkers and writers of antiquity. This novel will have readers wanting to start reading it again as soon as the last page is finished.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review
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