Margo Berdeshevsky

Ray Levy

Ray Levy is assistant professor of English at the University of Mary Washington. He is author of Negative Space and A Book So Red.

School

It’s a novel in rituals, a novel to read and reread until you disappear into its demon-ridden thickets of meaning and emerge as anything, a six-headed elk-owl that sings in the voice of Nancy Sinatra, a cenobitic orca, the end of Hegel.

Joanna Ruocco

School

Ray Levy

Beautiful Soon Enough, by Margo Berdeshevsky (FC2, 2009)

2023

Quality Paper
ISBN 978-1-57366-202-4

EBook
ISBN 978-1-57366-904-7

A formally fluid phantasmagoria, Ray Levy’s School performs an exorcism on academia and births the artist as demon. In this book, a trans professor confronts the tormented, pre-transitioned graduate student he’d once been and evokes the spirit of miseducation in a rite of trans becoming. Hypermobile, intertextual, performative, swift, and sly, School is a highly energized narrative of non-arrival, an anti–coming of age novel, and a ritual for building a new vessel for capacious creative selfhood out of the material of one’s educational humbling.

Here the carrot of professional success is one among many late-capitalist tricks that lures the professor into a dying institution where there is no life to live because there is no margin between living and working; where to labor in the profession means calculating survival by the lights of a shriveling horizon while twisting off dripping hunks of concern to chuck at students; and where everything is just families and houses, and everyone is just curdling and talking about liking it.

School is a bold, hilarious, and radically experimental novel about becoming an artist (a demon, a transsexual) as much as it is a protocol for unbecoming an academic and the freedoms it affords. Levy has written a deadly serious and a deeply comedic portrait of an artist refusing authority and discovering the means to live.

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Ray Levy’s School is a blistering and bitterly funny send-up, lampooning deconstructionism and the academy at large. With crackling wit and exhilarating formal play, Levy has given us a welcome antidote to the toxic culture of (some) graduate degree programs in literary studies.

Megan Milks, author of Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body and Slug and Other Stories

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There is such pleasure to be found in School, such virulence and cruelty. It’s a novel in rituals, a novel to read and reread until you disappear into its demon-ridden thickets of meaning and emerge as anything, a six-headed elk-owl that sings in the voice of Nancy Sinatra, a cenobitic orca, the end of Hegel.

Joanna Ruocco, author of Dan

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School is a tour de force of deadpan wit, a delicious détournement in which Levy amusingly mingles (and mangles) various scholarly and cultural archives. Mashing up a range of cult materials (from Bride of Frankenstein to Venus in Furs to The Animal That Therefore I Am), Levy impishly enacts an immanent institutional critique against the cult of intellectual celebrity, the cult of deconstruction, and the cult of academia. It is hard not to feel a shudder of schadenfreude at witnessing Levy’s hilariously clever low blows to high theory. This is cutting-edge academic satire of the highest order.

Michael Leong, author of Contested Records: The Turn to Documents in Contemporary North American Poetry