You Want To Read This Book!
Postcards from the Gerund State by Professor Lorraine López
A Recommendation by Professor of English Nancy Reisman
If you’ve noticed that higher education is rich terrain for satire, or have pondered how educated, artistic women might navigate institutional absurdity, outmoded gender paradigms, white myopia, and bumbling racial and cultural erasures, all while reckoning with teaching demands, family gone rogue, and personal lives gone awry, Postcards from the Gerand State is a must-read. In these eight sharply-rendered, sharply-funny stories, Lorraine Lopez gives us the world of Birnbrau Women’s College (pronounced ‘burn-bra’) a small, financially-struggling school in rural Georgia whose students may not be prepared for college level work, but certainly can cover tuition. Postcards begins with the collective experiences of five faculty women in “Birnbrau Surprise,” titled for the term they’ve coined as they encounter Birnbrau’s unexpected budget deficits, provincial colleagues’ faux-pas, or the occasional student who might choose ‘gift wrapping’ for an English class presentation. The women turn to each other for support, and in the opening “Birnbrau Surprise,” Lopez smartly deploys first person plural to offer their view. From there Lopez explores the private life of each woman and illuminates the ways Birnbrau and small-town Georgia shape her moment. A daughter gets pregnant by her married fast food franchise supervisor; a poet’s elderly mother gets in trouble with local law, and the bond-bailsman uses the collection time to discuss his latest sonnet from the poet’s community workshop; a faculty artist has a semi-sheltered rendez-vous with a grounds manager, only to be spied upon by a senior male colleague. Through all, Lopez’s mix of empathy, sly and skewering wit, and masterful evocation of these lives finds the sweet spot of laughing recognition. The final “Postcards from the Gerund State,” brings readers around to the group’s first meeting at an artist residency in Wyoming, a world unto itself, and a place you will not want to leave.