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Blue Angel

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  2,505 ratings  ·  320 reviews
It has been years since Swenson, a professor in a New England creative writing program, has published a novel. It's been even longer since any of his students have shown promise. Enter Angela Argo, a pierced, tattooed student with a rare talent for writing. Angela is just the thing Swenson needs. And, better yet, she wants his help. But, as we all know, the road to hell is ...more
Paperback, 314 pages
Published February 28th 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published 2000)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ryan Chapman
Mar 05, 2007 Ryan Chapman rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: College Freshman. Who hate books.
Shelves: fiction
This novel was a New York Times Notable Book, and a finalist for the National Book Award. These accolades prove the reverse of what you'd imagine: not that Blue Angel is a good read, or anything or literary merit, but that standards on the whole have fallen. This novel fails on so many levels, I felt insulted 150pgs in and angry by the end.The novel wants to be either a satirical critique of political correctness, and how its guilty-without-trial ethos of college-level sexual harassment is as ea ...more
Damecatoe
Only bother reading Blue Angel if you don't mind books where you're not gonna like the main character.

The paragraph below describes the chief reason I hated the main character. If you want to avoid the sexual exploits of the main character, quit reading now.

SPOILER ALERT - QUIT READING IF YOU CARE

So the dude is married, right? And he's a professor. He's never slept with one of his students. He seems half proud and half sad about this fact. Anyway, during the course of the book, he does have sex
...more
Steve Turtell
I find the negative comments about this novel mystifying--it's a brilliant satire, and was deservedly nominated for a National Book Award (a prize rarely given to comic novels or satires). I suspect that the lack of suspense, the reader's foreknowledge that certain things will happen blunts their pleasure in Prose's wonderful writing and the insight she has into each of her characters, and the affectionate but acerbic picture of life in a small, somewhat pretentious and second rate college. But ...more
Daisy
It took me two days to read this book and I feel like it's two days that I would like to demand the author give me back. If I'm not mistaken, this book was a National Book Award finalist and I would also like an opportunity to smack some of those judges around.

The premise: an aging writer with a bad case of writer's block spends his days teaching sub-par students creative writing at an over-privileged liberal arts college in an out of the way small town. When a student with talent enters his cla
...more
Shaindel
A lot of people have complained that this book is a cliche, but I think it's really playing on cliches--political correctness on college campuses, male creative writing teacher / female student. I really felt for the professor at parts of the novel. He really seems to care if his student is writing "creative" work or if she is a victim of incest asking for help. And at other times, I couldn't stand him. His justifications for "wanting" the student, etc. (But that means he's a well developed char ...more
Rachel
professor likes student's novel. student likes praise from professor. professor and student make out. UH OHHHHHH SPAGHETTI-O
Lee
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Patti
I don't know if I can bring myself to finish this book. The writing itself is not so bad, though the author does do a thing with her possesives that is beginning to drive me nuts. The bigger problem however is the unbelievable characters, and their trajectory. I haven't been sold on the story. These people need to more wicked - how can a guy who is so complacent do what he does? I'm not a prude, I know people are having illicit sex all over the place, and enjoying it much more than this self-obs ...more
Heather
Jun 11, 2008 Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: college teachers and aspiring writers
Shelves: literary-novels
I loved this book, thought it was a very witty academic satire and fun spoof on students and terrible writing. To me the central joke is that the "brilliant" student is also a terrible writer-- the excerpts we read of her novel are cliches of goth/riot grrrl anomie, with the lurking menace and squalor and minimalism and repulsive/erotic imagery. (Her name "Argo(t)" suggests this quality of subculture chic and slang). Plus hello she's writing about a student attracted to her male teacher, FOR her ...more
Kelly
This was absolutely BRILLIANT!! Witty, clever, funny, intelligent, and original! This one will be going on my list of all-time favorites for sure.

Ted Swenson is a creative-writing professor at a small college in Vermont. He is happily married with an ideal teaching schedule of just one small class a week. He also has a college-aged daughter who won't speak to him, and he can't seem to make progress on the novel he's been writing. When one of his students - the sullen, awkward, pierced, tattooed
...more
Caitlin Constantine
I was very torn on this book. I kept hearing echoes of "Oleanna" and "Disclosure" as I read. I mean, taking things that happen quite often - sexual harassment and sexual relationships between male professors and female students - and doing a bit of role reversal? How shocking, how transgressive, how...completely obnoxious. It's about as edgy as someone who shows more concern for the few men who might be falsely accused of rape than for the multitudes of women who are actually raped. Never mind a ...more
Teresa
Feb 10, 2008 Teresa rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: don't bother
Recommended to Teresa by: Mike?!?!
This book was well written. Prose does a good job giving us a glimpse into academia and marriage. Even the scenes in the writing class were funny and interesting. I'll give her that.

Prose is taking a satirical approach to try to make a point about today's air of politically correct gender relations. The college campus is overrun by ultra feminists who think all women are victims of men's phallocentric universe, led by the ultimate feminist witch professor. On the other hand, the main character
...more
Abigail Hillinger
How did this book get so many awards?

It's the most cliched story out there; male writing professor gets involved with his brilliant female student. About fifty pages in (and not getting any more involved), I made a bet with myself. I bet that I could predict where the book was going and save myself the three hours it would take to get there naturally. So I turned to the last forty pages and sure enough...it was exactly where I figured.

It's discouraging that Blue Angel was so revered. I honestly
...more
Eve
Feb 20, 2008 Eve rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Walker
I thought this was a very entertaining read. Many of the complaints in other reviews center on the main character not being likable and the book not being laugh-out-loud funny. For me, the humor was there in Prose's sharp observations and exaggerations when it came to her characters and academia in general... so, more of an appreciative "HA!" every so often as opposed to a side-splitting, rolling- around-on-the-floor fit of laughter. I especially liked her examples of bad student writing, a lot ...more
Richard
I read this book because of a recommendation on Ricochet. I was not disappointed.
I am a male university professor with predominantly female students, so this story had particular resonance for me, dealing as it does with the potential mine-fields that constitute the university classroom today. The title refers to the unforgettable Marlene Dietrich movie of the same name ("Falling in love again...can't help it"), and the movie plays a role in the novel.
As I read, I found myself almost out-loud t
...more
C. McKenzie
Swenson's a writer, but one who hasn't published in years. Now he's teaching creative writing at a small New England college and one of his students, Angela Argo, is writing an engaging and quite publishable novel. He's amazed by Miss Argo and her creative body piercing and tattooing, but he's also fascinated by her story and its oddly familiar threads.

So who is Miss Argo? Is she the awkward insecure coed she portrays or a manipulative, ambitious would be author who would use anyone and anythi
...more
Addy
This book was extremely disappointing. Ted is a professor at a college and meets Angela who is a student in his class. His wife, Sherrie also works at the college as a nurse, and their relationship with their daughter, Ruby has greatly deteriorated since she left for a different college.
Anyway, since I didn't like this book very much, I'm not going to give it a very good review. Basically, Angela's started writing a novel and she and Ted meet after class to discuss the novel and how it's going.
...more
Grace
I loved this book! First of all it's like her "Reading Like a Writer" came to life on these pages. From the dinner party scene (she dedicates an entire chapter on how to write an effective dinner party scene in "Reading") to the books she mentions throughout, it was like being a part of some secret inner circle. I loved it. I think she's brilliant, if I'm allowed to make such a claim (I mean, I fully recognize it is a bit presumptuous of me to think I can spot brilliance, but still, Francine Pro ...more
Jill
I’m not surprised this book has polarized reviewers, but I am surprised by the sheer mass of people who describe Blue Angel as just a melodrama of an ‘average’ aging professor (who simply lacks the control required to deflect the advances of one punky student), and a thin satire of a higher academic institutions.

Some folks have called the book “cliché.” I’d make an important distinction that the main character’s perspective on the events are in fact contrived – but what makes this book brillian
...more
Tony
“Blue Angel,” written by Francine Prose (who has the greatest name for a novelist ever), emits the beautiful, multi-colored flames as a large structure falls to ash. It is worth a look, or a read, despite its failure.

One, the book is filled with cardboard characters. The supporting characters, in particular, are built on insufficient description that relies on nickel and dime stereotypes. The characters lack any depth. The lesbian feminazi college student can do nothing but shout down those she
...more
Michael Hagan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mindy
My sentiments on this book run hot and cold. I didn't like the tone, and I generally don't like reading long, predictable, stories of someone's downfall (C and P excepted, I guess). All the same, Prose gets credit for dragging me into the plot and and making me care and making me lose sleep over how the whole thing ends up playing out. At the same time, I thought that the characters were pretty flat, especially our non-hero, Swenson. The only one with real pizazz was Angela, except that she was ...more
Ethan
This book started out great. Unfortunately, the more time that I spent with the main character -- a spineless, terrifically confused man who refers to himself as "Swenson" -- the more I hated the book. Does Swenson suffer from dementia? Or does Francine Prose suffer from an inability to understand, and write about, men? Either could be correct. For my money, I'd rather read Chabon's Wonder Boys any day of the week; not only is the prose far better, but the psychology is much more believable. And ...more
Badly Drawn Girl
I'm frankly surprised that this book is so polarizing. I enjoyed it a lot and thought it was both funny and tragic. This is a timely book that clearly shows some of the problems that come with the new paranoia about sex and sexual harassment so many institutions and businesses deal with.

It was refreshing to see the man as someone who genuinely loves his wife, loves his family, loves his job and cares deeply about his students. This book shows how easily that can all be damaged, and how the trut
...more
Abby
How did this book become a national bestseller and win any awards? It's about good, creative writing which I found ironic since the writing is such hack, crap. After about 20 pages when one of the black characters is described as saying, "Homegirl, you don't know what it's like to be a sister.." or some crap like that I was groaning and forced myself to keep going to page 78. Then I just couldn't take it anymore. Normally if I don't like a book I'll just donate it, but this is the first time tha ...more
James
Francine Prose's novel is a well-written spoof of academia. She successfully parodies both the ersatz avant garde students and the politically-correct administration while leaving the hero (?) caught in the middle. Ted Swenson is a writer and professor but an unlikable hero; however, he seems almost sympathetic by the end of the story. At least he appears to have learned his lesson, or is that a mirage like many of the emotions displayed by his antagonist. Much of the book seems designed to teas ...more
Fionnuala
I can't see what all the fuss is about Francine Prose. I read her historical novel The Glorious Ones years ago and found it very one-note. This is even worse - utterly predictable, boring and self-congratulatory. Self-consciously worked-at imagery, irritatingly quirky adjectives, endless descriptions of trivia - all the hallmarks of third-rate creative writing advice...which is all the more ironic since much of the action takes place within a creative writing class. I picked this up in the $1 bi ...more
Elisha Bilsborough
This book had such a strong beginning, with clever literary references strewn throughout and enough hilarity to make even Ted Swenson bearable as a protagonist. Prose crucifies Swenson on the cross of his own academic arrogance, and although predictable, it is more-or-less satisfying to watch because that is the point of the book: poking fun at all the pretense and absurdity of academia.

However, where this book falls through is Angela Argo. She -- like the rest of the book - has such a strong b
...more
Rosy
Nov 04, 2014 Rosy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
Novelist-turned-professor Ted Swenson wastes his time away at a second-tier liberal arts college while pretending to write a novel. After 20 years of coasting through his cushy life, a punk pierced goth student, Angela Argo, bursts into his life with an impressive in-progress novel. As Swenson’s interactions with Angela intensify, his actions result in serious consequences in the politically-correct-charged atmosphere of Euston College.

Let’s get this out of the way first - this entire book is fu
...more
Lorraine
Ted Swenson is a middle-aged professor teaching at a small liberal arts college (puritanical college) married to a college nurse. They have a daughter who is currently not speaking to them that is off to her first year of college. He is actually a writer-in-residence with a light teaching load who can’t get his second novel off the ground; it’s been six years He becomes obsessed with one of his students who can actually write and who eventually seduces him in order to get her novel read by his a ...more
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Francine Prose (born in 1947 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American novelist. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1968, and received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1991. She has sat on the board of judges for the PEN/Newman's Own Award, and her novel Blue Angel, a satire about sexual harassment on college campuses, was a finalist for the National Book Award. She is now teaching at Bard College.

For
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