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DarkEcho Horror
deccoclock by Rick Berry
Book Review

PUBLISH AND PERISH: Three Tales of Tenure and Terror
by James Hynes
Picador/ 338 pp./$24.00
ISBN 0-312-15628-6

The groves of modern academe become a haunted but humorous forest in the hands of James Hynes. The three novellas that constitute Publish and Perish: Three Tales of Tenure and Terror intelligently deliver both farce and suspense that will delight horror devotees and those who claim never to touch the stuff.

Hynes' genuine feel for his college world of post-modern academic politics, tenure tracks, and ideology to die for makes his barbed wit all the more effective. He also remembers the first rule of building suspenseful horror -- believable characters to identify with. Even if they overly ambitious, cynical, or arrogant, they are also touchingly (and usually charmingly) human. He knows men and women...and cats. In ''Queen of the Jungle'' a feline named Charlotte shows the reader that love is more that just a "complicated ideological position," as it's adulterous protagonist puts it. The clever cat eventually dispenses some supernatural justice. A cultural anthropologist whose brilliant career has been scuttled due to his own arrogance finds himself more involved in native ritual than he imagined possible in "99". At the moment his incredulous realization of doom, he thinks This can't be happening to me. I've got tenure. "Casting the Runes," a modern ghost story and blatant tribute to M.R. James, ties the first two stories together and provides an ancient curse, an evil professor, and a feminist blonde history prof in distress.

Hynes keeps his horror serious and his farce funny to make Publish and Perish a stylish, spooky, and completely satisfying read. -- Paula Guran

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Copyright © 2002 Paula Guran. All Rights Reserved.