Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Beginnings: Groves of Academe by Mary McCarthy

Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I am trying to follow all Book Beginning participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

MR. LINKY: Please leave a link to your post below. If you don't have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.


When Henry Mulcahy, a middle-aged instructor of literature at Jocelyn College, Jocelyn, Pennsylvania, unfolded the President's letter and became aware of its contents, he gave a sudden sharp cry of impatience and irritation, as if such interruptions could positively be brooked no longer.

-- Groves of Academe by Mary McCarthy, which is on the Anthony Burgess list of Top 99 novels. I love complicated opening sentences like this that put me right into the middle of the story.

Reading this pitch perfect campus novel, first published in 1951, makes me want to create a list of academic-themed books, I enjoy them so. Any suggestions?


  1. I like this opening! It draws you straight in. I'm excited to be joining in with Book Beginnings!

  2. I wonder what is in the letter!

  3. I'm going to read McCarthy's The Group next month for book club! For books of academe, include Getting In by Stabiner, The Headmaster by McPhee, Crunch Time by Fredericks, Admission by Korelitz, My Freshman Year by Nathan, Straight Man by Russo, The Water is Wide by Conroy, Acceptance by Coll, Commencement by Sullivan, and The Professors' Wives' Club by Rendell. Please do a list! You are not (obviously!) the only one who loves books set at school.

  4. Thanks for hosting and that is a great opening sentence.

  5. I wish I had some suggestions .. the only things that come to mind right now are the Deb Harkness books, but only because they involve an academician!

  6. Interesting beginning, thanks for sharing this title with us! :) I'd have to think about books with an academic theme to them, strangely enough I don't think I've read very many books (if at all) with that element...

    My Friday Book Memes

  7. That sentence is quite complicated. I hope the story contains more easily readable sentences too. It does really drop you into the story though. Happy reading!

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  9. Hi Gilion,

    What a great opening sentence, so descriptive, without really giving anything away.

    It intrigues me enough to need to know just why The President would be writing a letter to Henry, whether Henry was expecting the letter and just why he seems so annoyed by whatever the letter says.

    I have recently finished reading a modern novel, set in a Boston university, about a group of English professors, who all happen to be lecturing there. 'The Englishman And The Butterfly' by Ryan Assmusen, was an excellent read, with several unexpected twists in the plot. You can check out my review here ...

    It might be worth adding to your list.

    Have a great weekend,


  10. Thanks so much for hosting this! Some title read alives from Novelist Plus (probably available through your local public library) White Noise by Don DeLillo, American Desert by Percival L.Everett, The Bear Went Over the Mountain by William Kotzwinkle, As She Climbed Across the Table by Jonathan Lethem, ... all share the genre 'Satirical fiction' and the subject 'College teachers'.

  11. This sounds like a good one. I hope you enjoy it.

  12. I've got McCarthy's The Group on my TBR stack. This one sounds good too!


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