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English Majors Unite: Lynn Coady Feels Your Pain


Lynn Coady chronicles the plight of English majors everywhere through the eyes of nineteen-year-old aspiring poet Lawerence Campbell.  As poetry month draws to a close, Mean Boy eases the transition with quirky, entertaining account of the poetic community.


April 27, 2006


Larry, or Lawrence Campbell, as he prefers to be called, is a budding poet with working class roots.  Thrilled at escaping the life of mediocrity laid before him on Prince Edward Island, where his family owns a motel and mini-golf course, he follows his hero, the enigmatic Canadian poet Jim Arsunault to Westcock University in New Brunswick.

Mesmerized by Arsunault’s charisma and grandiose, hard drinking lifestyle, Lawrence soon finds himself caught in a balancing act with his over-protective, deeply conservative family on one side, and dreams of literary immortality at the feet of Arsunault on the other.

Reportedly an expose of many of the hidden stories and myths of Mount Allison University and one of its former, famous poet/professors, John Thompson; Mean Boy (Doubleday Canada, 2006) follows Lawrence through a chaotic whirlwind of parties, punctuation, literary expression (what quality makes a woman ‘blousy’?) and life lessons.  As his narcissistic hero spins out of control, Lawrence struggles to define himself as a poet, a scholar, and a man.

Through the witty yet naive eyes of Lawrence, and his conflicted, frequent self-comparisons to the likes of Byron and Chaucer, Coady wrestles with the role of Canadian poetry and the experience of Atlantic Canadian writers.  For example, being a poetic ‘rock star’ in Canada means that people in Toronto know who you are.

This clear, sweet, narrative of Lawrence’s quest for knowledge will touch anyone who is—or ever has been—embroiled in the odd, slightly hypocritical, world of Academia.

The Author

Lynn Coady was nominated for the 1998 Governor General’s Award for Fiction for her first novel, Strange Heaven.  She received the Canadian Author’s Association/Air Canada Award for best writer under thirty and the Dartmouth Book and Writing Award for fiction.  Her second book, Play the Monster Blind, was a national bestseller and a Best Book of 2000 for The Globe and Mail; Saints of Big Harbour, also a bestseller, was a Globe and Mail Best Book in 2002.  Her articles and reviews have appeared in several publications including Saturday Night, This magazine, and Chatelaine.  Lynn Coady lives in Edmonton.



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