A fast-paced and frequently hilarious tale of life in academia, Michael Meyer’s The Famous Union actually reminded me a little of Tom Sharpe’s Wilt, with one important exception: I actually found The Famous Union to be funnier, more biting and more inventive.
The Famous Union is the story of Alexander Smith and William Ferris, who arrive to teach at Famous Union college but discover their expectations are likely to be dashed. While Smith faces overcrowded classrooms, Ferris has no students to teach at all. The novel accurately and astutely knocks many of the absurdities of academic life, but in a way that feels fresh and modern.
Michael Meyer manages to keep the farcical elements of the story on the right side of being believable, and anyone who has ever set foot in a college or university as a member of staff will probably smile and nod at some of the incidents that occur. My only real complaint is that I would have liked the novel to be longer: the ending feels a little rushed and I feel there was enough material here for a 300-pager. Still, a highly-recommended and very funny novel.
Star rating for The Famous Union: 4 stars.
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> Rating system: 5 stars (excellent); 4 stars (very good); 3 stars (good); 2 stars (fairly good); 1 star (bad); 0 stars (awful).