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3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  396 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
When Ford Rexford, America's most celebrated playwright and notorious drunk, disappears to London with the only copy of Theo Ryan's play, Ryan sets off in pursuit--beginning an adventure which will catapult him from his dreary life in the wings to center stage in the world of international theater and literary controversy.
Paperback, 392 pages
Published September 1st 1993 by Washington Square Press (first published 1991)
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Jul 15, 2009 Deborah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, comedy
A good old fashioned and epic romp with enough literary allusions to keep the most devoted bibliophile happy. Not only funny, but witty as well (not always the same thing). Malone keeps things moving at a remarkable pace without once losing his audience.

I love Malone's work and Hillston Police Chief Cuddy Mangum is one of my all time favorite literary creations but this book has nothing to do with the drama and humor of Hillston. This is one of Malone "journey" books (the other - Handling Sin is
May 15, 2014 Ty rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 20, 2012 Femomhist rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I generally find the book club questions in the back of a book to be pretty damn dreadful, but on this occasion I liked this one:

Many faculty members at Cavendish are referred to by the subject they teach, with or without an actual name. What does this identification method suggest about personal identity and inter-personal relationships in academia?

Malone builds off the trope that All the World's a Stage and introduces a cast of academics, each a type, the African American woman who jokes “I do
Jim Leckband
Oct 08, 2013 Jim Leckband rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Foolscap" is a great name for this book. It can either mean paper used to print a book, or a jester's hat. Similarly, like all of Malone's books I've read, "Foolscap" has a serious "bookish" point while being jesterly wacky.

Theo Ryan is a Theater professor at a fictional North Carolina university who is having Hamlet problems. He is stuck and doesn't know how to get out of it. Until a writer (not a ghost...yet) comes to town and shakes him out of his funk. Ford Rexford ("Rex": King, "Ford": Cro
3.5 stars.

I bought this after a talk by the author, who was quite charming and inspiring. I picked this particular of his novels kind of at random, and I'm not sure it was the best beginning, though I liked many things about it. The ancillary characters are vivid and interesting, it's often quite funny, and the literary allusions are fun to me, though, I suspect, might work best only with those seriously entwined in literary academia.

Where the book suffers is in it's protagonist and it's pacin
Amber Creed
Jun 20, 2014 Amber Creed rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't even finish this book. I was so completely bored with everything about this novel as I tried to plod along. The premise sounded amazing from the book jacket. I like theater. I like quirky characters. I like books set at colleges. But this was too dull, too wordy, too meandering and too 'academic' for my tastes. I couldn't find myself caring enough about any of the characters. The first chapter drew me in... but that was about it for me.
Jay Dewey
Jun 05, 2015 Jay Dewey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
The first chapter is terrible college-professor-speak, hard to get through pond moss of pedantic speech. After that it gets much easier, or I became a better swimmer. The "hero" is a college professor; the style fits his profession -- even though the lady authors regularly, perhaps hopingly, point to his handsome good looks, his Raleigh-like body, and his charm. The story is imaginative - and I rather liked reading it, though it took me far longer than I would prefer.

I bought the book on a whim
May 17, 2007 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: stodges
Shelves: fiction
This book was simply delightful. Nothing weighty, no punch in the gut. Just a slap on the face with a featherduster.

I'm having a hard time remembering - Theo is a big Jew. There's a legendary character named Ford. Theo opens his arms to experience and comes out of the closet (with regard to experiencing life more fully and being a creative artist, not especially with regard to homosexuality). Ford helps him.

Theo acts in a play, falls in love with a beautiful country singer, then writes a play. H
Oct 03, 2015 Karry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, art, acadamia, humor
I enjoyed this book a lot, and I regret that we can't give books a half-star because I would certainly rate it a little higher. The author has acadamia nailed and I'm guessing he has also had a lot of experience with actors and the stage. There is a lot to chuckle about and enjoy as the book pokes fun at both university and acting. I particularly enjoyed the conundrum that the characters got into once they decided to "fake" a play by Sir Walter Raleigh, of all people! Good read.
Took me awhile to get into this half the book. But I did get hooked and wanted to follow Theo to the end. Loved the whole premise in the end. Unusual and became intriguing.
Mary Frances
Jul 25, 2008 Mary Frances rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any adult who loves great character and writing
My second favorite, or maybe favorite, Malone book. Malone is a great writer- funny, warm, in love with his characters. This book, about Theo, a drama teacher in a southern school who is marking time, is a charmer and more. Theo is awakened from his slumber by a foul-mouthed playwriting genius, a strong, loving country music singer, and a cast of great and funny supporting characters. It's also a great comedy of manners about life in academia. Just writing this review makes me want to pull it of ...more
Michael Messinger
Apr 17, 2016 Michael Messinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 26, 2016 Mary rated it liked it
A bit long but entertaining. I prefer Malone's other books but recommend this.
Sep 12, 2013 Lynn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
After Malone's name kept coming up in lists and reviews of wonderful books/writing, I randomly chose this title (mostly because it was immediately available for Kindle). I abandoned after 20%, but to be fair, will give this author another try.

The writing was very good, engaging, and smart. The plot, however, revolved around theater and academe, neither of which I have much experience or interest. As the insider references piled one upon the next, I felt evermore like an outsider with absolutely
Anne Gnagi
A fun mix of English department politics, theatre, British history, romance, deception, & humor.
Ray Francis
Jun 21, 2013 Ray Francis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an enjoyable, and reminds me a little of Robertson Davies' Salterton Trilogy (though Davies is a few levels above Malone). Like Davies, Malone's characters are vain, funny, eccentric, and complex. Also like Davies, Malone finds human touches to add nuance and something approaching compassion for even otherwise unlikeable characters. The sweep of the novel is fun, and threads of the plot blowing about in the wind are nicely and naturally tied together.
Jul 20, 2009 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a humorous look at academic life from the administrative side--reminded me of "Straight Man" by Richard Russo. There were also serious parts of the story--the friendship between Theo Ryan, professor of English and Joshua "Ford" Rexford, a brilliant yet self-destructive playwright--was very real and very moving. I'm glad I discovered Michael Malone with "Handling Sin"--I need to get going on reading his other books too.
Deon Stonehouse
Feb 14, 2013 Deon Stonehouse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-with-humor
Foolscap by Michael Malone is a hilarious book set in the world of academia and theater Professor Ryan’s life is complicated when a scheme is hatched to pass his play off as a newly discovered work by Sir Walter Raleigh. You will meet some odd but entertaining characters, like Dame Winifred Throckmorton. Funny, beautifully written, and wildly entertaining, it will make you want to read more books by Michael Malone.
May 13, 2015 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit
Amy Turner
While I was reading this, I thought it was just so-so, but kept going because it was a Duke bookclub selection, and the author was coming to speak. To my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed the talk by the author, which was very funny, and may read more of his books. I later spoke to the author at the Hillsbogough Farmer's Market (he lives in Hillsoborough) and he seems really nice.
Mar 29, 2008 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Margaret by: It was a gift from my daughter Jen
Anyone who enjoys smiling at the foibles of academia will enjoy this book. A favorite character is Winifred Throckmorton, a true lover of British literature who lives in a cottage crammed full of books and other odds and ends, perhaps the dream house in which we readers imagine ourselves spending our golden years. This book is FUN!
I liked this book. But I am an English and Theater major with an advanced degree. I enjoyed the interaction amongst the English department faculty, and the theater process as plays are produced. Don't know what others without that interest would think.
It was amusing. Not gut-bustingly funny like some of his later work.
Oct 22, 2011 Liz rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I nearly didn't make it past the first chapter - the whole book is seriously in need of an editor - but the story (and some of the characters) turned out to be kind of charming. If it was the only thing to read in the cabin on a rainy day, I'd say go ahead & read it; otherwise don't waste your time.
Aug 21, 2012 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

Michael Malone is hilarious, & this book is probably the most accurate depiction of the politics, infighting & general neuroses of higher education ever to be penned. That I laughed appreciatively at it, not out of shock, has made my summer in graduate school that much more bearable.
Aug 07, 2011 Ron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Malone's other novels have been far too stiff, mannered and interminably boring for me to venture past the 50th page, but this is an exciting literary romp that falls somewhat in the range of the Wonder Boys by Chabon. Except that this is far funnier and much more fun.
Jun 17, 2009 Tracyene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A new bookclub at work has selected this book. Exciting because the writer will be coming in a few weeks to give a reading.
Nov 17, 2011 Peggymca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved every bit of it. A rich canvas of characters, great plot, laced with humor. Malone is my favorite author.
Dec 31, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
His best book. Makes fun of intellectuals and the British and high society parties.
May 31, 2010 Marshaferz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very funny. very clever. Continually surprised me by not going where I thought it would.
Lee Charlton
Oct 05, 2013 Lee Charlton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Great book. Full of humor and historical and literary references. Well done!
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Michael Malone is the author of ten novels, a collection of short stories, and two works of nonfiction. Educated at Carolina and at Harvard, he is now a professor in Theater Studies at Duke University. Among his prizes are the Edgar, the O. Henry, the Writers Guild Award, and the Emmy. He lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina, with his wife.
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