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Apes Too Many Genres
on 7 July 2011
I've met people in my life you seem to stroll along from incident to incident with little regard for direction. I have rarely seen this in book form as most authors want to set up a coherent narrative for the reader to follow. `The Graduate Student' is a ramble of a novel that touches on Hollywood farce, science fiction, academic text and crime thriller. The book is all these things and none. When graduate student Blackwell James returns from a trip into the deep jungle he brings with him a bag full of psychotropic roots and no money. Grasping for a job he takes the post of a researcher in California were he is soon mixed up in the movie business. Can Blackwell keep his mind on his studies?
There is no doubting that I enjoyed reading `The Graduate Student'. It is a breezy novel that flies by with a series of flawed, yet interesting, characters. Blackwell himself is a bit of a chancer, but nothing he does is malicious and instead he is a slave to fortune (`Some Mothers Do Have Them' but with added naughtiness). The issues with book are all down the eclectic nature of James Polster's writing that passes through several diverse genres and back again. I enjoyed the Hollywood expo sections of the book, but other areas fell flat. The academic nature of some sections seemed a little naïve and ultimately pointless, whilst the sudden side run into fantasy ended up confused.
By the time the book concludes there is some semblance of plot and you just about have a grip on events. The final section is plays out like a crime thriller and is well written, if not particularly in keeping with the rest of the book. In the end `The Graduate Student' becomes a curio that highlights Polster's mastery of some genres and stumbling in others. An interestingly confusing read.