Thursday, January 14, 2010

Gentleman, please!

In Michael Northrop's Gentlemen, Mr. Haberman's remedial English students are surprised when he brings in a barrel and asks them to whack it with a fish club and guess what's inside. Haberman does it as a teaching hook to get them thinking about Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and guesses range from a watermelon to a big slab of meat. This is not his usual teaching style, and he never tells what is inside.

Students Mixer, Bones and our protagonist Micheal (misspelling intended) think Haberman is a jackass, but when he asks them to help move the barrel to his car, what can they do? The bulky container won't fit in the teacher's small sports car, so they dump out the wrapped contents, which seem strangely jointed. Haberman still won't reveal what's inside, and as the days pass, he seems to be taunting the guys as he discusses murder in Crime and Punishment. Since Tommy, a student in his class, has gone missing, this seems suspicious and more than a little threatening.

The guys have been friends since grade school, and although Tommy has occasionally vanished, it has never been so long without word. Is Tommy off crashing with a friend, or has he met a worse fate? What game is Haberman playing? And what, if anything, can his friends do about it?

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Guinan 1990?-2009

Griffin ?-2010