Fun_People Archive
15 Apr
The minds of undergraduates

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 97 16:26:19 -0700
To: Fun_People
Subject: The minds of undergraduates

Forwarded-by: Lani Herrmann <>
From: Jerry McDonough <>
Forwarded-by: (Michele Tepper)
From: Jonathan Lethem's really quite wonderful new novel, _As She Climbed
Across the Table_ (Doubleday, 1997: ISBN 0-385-48517-4).

.....I looked at the clock.  I'd slept all night and morning, through most
of the last meeting of my freshman class.
     I struggled back into my preworn clothing, my pretied shoes, ran to
the anthropology building, and rushed upstairs to the airless classroom.
Only one of my sixteen students remained.  He sat alone at his desk, writing
in his notebook with a ballpoint pen.  He looked up, astonished at my
     "Professor Engstrand."
     "I'm almost done."
     "Done with what?  Where did they all go?"
     He blinked twice.  He looked frightened.
     "Tell me what happened, Angus."
     "We met and waited for you, sir.  Sat in our places.  But you didn't
come.  No one said anything.  Half an hour passed.  Then someone suggested
that your absence might represent some new form of final exam.  Some arcane
and menacing form, I believe those were the exact words.  We laughed
nervously at first.  But one by one we opened our notebooks.  Began
attempting to answer the question you were posing.  That's why it's a little
unsettling to see you here, sir.  I was almost finished.  The others handed
in their papers to the department secretary.  May I ask you a question,
     "Yes, Angus."
     "Does this mean I failed?"
     "No, Angus.  There's no time limit.  Hand it in when you're done."

(page 159-160, and no, no names were changed)

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