Book: Small World
With many conferences starting soon (in fact, I’m writing this just before EMAC in Lisbon starts), I thought reading “A Small World” by David Lodge would be seasonal. The book is the follow-up from Changing Places, which I read a few months back.
Similar to the previous book, I enjoyed the story and the read. Some old friends reappear, but this time they are not exchanging roles (and wives). Rather, they are conference-hopping with mostly ulterior motives. David Lodge creates many comical scenes, as the protagonist tries to track down a mysterious(ly alluring) scholar. Of course, the book is a satire, and deals with the conference circuit very much tongue in cheek. Ultimately though, David Lodge has a sharp eye and sharper pencil when describing the more glamorous aspects of “global academic jet-setting” . However, the book was written in the middle 1980s, and much has changed since then (or at least I hope). And while the book is funny to read even today, some parts feel a little dated. For me, the bed-hopping activities got a bit tiring after a while. Sure, some were pretty funny, but at some stage I wondered if I’m the only academic who hasn’t copped off with a colleague (yes, you can use the comment function below to tell me that is so ;-)).
In summary, the book was fun, witty and mostly captivating. For me the storyline was less engaging than Changing Places – but an entertaining way to start the conference season. The book is btw. available both in print and as a Kindle download from Amazon.