I like Barbara Pym.
She's one of those gems of a writer who somehow got lost in the shuffle over the years. Maybe it's because she had problems getting published; maybe it's simply that she was a woman writing about country life from a woman's perspective, and the blokes who for some reason dominate the canon (though not English classrooms in colleges) deemed her work unnecessary. Regardless, she's funny, poignant, interesting, and witty.
So why couldn't I finish this book?
I currently work in academia. I was an English major in college, and I graduated just in time for the economy to completely implode, rendering my career path nonexistent. As a result, I latched onto higher education and managed to wrangle a secretarial job. For partly this reason, I thought that Straight Man was utterly brilliant (also because I definitely know that guy). I have a copy of Moo on my shelf that I keep intending to read.
Neither of these books are necessarily better than Less Than Angels (says she who only read 70 pages of the book she's reviewing). However, Less Than Angels is a book about academia. Or rather, Academia. The Academics in this novel take themselves just as seriously as Real Life Academics often do. The standard Pym wit is present: the nosy neighbors, the serious archeologists, the irritated museum curators who can't figure out how to gracefully remove grad students from a library function.
I'm sure it's a great book. If I didn't work where I work, I would probably enjoy it. However, this is a novel at least in part about Academics being cruel to one another either on an intellectual or personal level. It doesn't matter that it's probably satire: I still don't want to read about sulky, entitled grad students, nepotism, and collection envy. That's not entertaining. That's my Tuesday.