Hank Deveraux is chair of the English department at a mediocre Pennsylvania university. A prickly eccentric, he is under fire from his colleagues, who are especially nervous about rumored budget cuts and layoffs. During one spectacularly bad day, he is stabbed in the nose by a poet, and goes before TV cameras threatening to kill a duck a day until his department is given a budget. Meanwhile, Hank's hated father, a famed literary scholar, comes back into his life, and Hank must ask himself whether he has attained his life's most cherished goal: being as little like his father as possible.
I never would have picked this one up except for its being my library's January book club selection, but I really, really enjoyed it. I can't testify to the accuracy of its portrayal of academic life, but I can testify to the laugh-out-loud humor laced throughout the book. It's also quite sweet, in its own way. Hank is an exasperating asshole most of the time, but he manages to be an endearing character all the same.