The Topeka School Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
From the award-winning author of 10:04 and Leaving the Atocha Station, a tender and expansive family drama set in the American Midwest at the turn of the century: a tale of adolescence, transgression and the conditions that have given rise to the trolls and tyrants of the new right.
Adam Gordon is a senior at Topeka High School, class of 1997. His mother, Jane, is a famous feminist author; his father, Jonathan, is an expert at getting 'lost boys' to open up. They both work at the Foundation, a well-known psychiatric clinic that has attracted staff and patients from around the world. Adam is a renowned debater and orator, expected to win a national championship before he heads to college. He is an aspiring poet. He is--although it requires a great deal of posturing, weight lifting, and creatine supplements - one of the cool kids, passing himself off as a 'real man', ready to fight or (better) freestyle about fighting if it keeps his peers from thinking of him as weak. Adam is also one of the seniors who brings the loner Darren Eberheart - who is, unbeknownst to Adam, his father's patient - into the social scene, with disastrous effects.
Deftly shifting perspectives and time periods, Ben Lerner's The Topeka School is the story of a family's struggles and strengths: Jane's reckoning with the legacy of an abusive father, Jonathan's marital transgressions, the challenge of raising a good son in a culture of toxic masculinity. It is also a riveting prehistory of the present: the collapse of public speech, the trolls and tyrants of the new right, and the ongoing crisis of identity among white men.
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|Listening Length||9 hours and 50 minutes|
|Narrator||John Moraitis, Christopher Ragland, Regina Regan|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||14 November 2019|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 44,631 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
162 in Friendship Fiction
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Top reviews from Australia
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Nevertheless, I have a few gripes:
I do have a problem dealing with, as Lerner acknowledges, 'the unstable mixture of fact and fiction'. I am aware that this is being done a lot now and often makes for absorbing reading, however, it still seems a bit like cheating (using your own life and passing it off as fiction). I am aware that all fiction has to come from somewhere and that writers of traditional fiction also draw upon their own and others' experiences to make stuff up but don't we expect fiction to be more imagined than non-fiction? And, isn't that harder? And isn't it fairer for the reader to know this when they read a literary work?
And, as much as I admire and really enjoy Lerner's writing and structure and originality, there lingers, for me beneath the surface, a discernible 'smarty-pants' undergraduate tone. And, more than a touch of self-indulgent whinging from a group of entitled, intellectually superior folk whose endless analysis of their personal problems at times tip into banality. Lerner's writing saves them.
Top reviews from other countries
The Topeka School teems with lovely flashes of brilliant prose. Then sullies itself with garden-variety Woke nostrums.
SPOILERS: The protagonist (one of them) protests against Trump's immigration policies. The whole work is littered with pseudo-intellectual critical theories about white males and 'privilege'.
I suspect such Wokery will age the work. After all, it's cultish nonsense. Tribal signifiers of the upper classes and their hopefuls. In 20 years, it'll be the political version of the mullet.