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302 pages, Hardcover
First published May 1, 2011
Adulthood brings with it the pernicious illusion of control, perhaps even depends on it. I mean that mirage of dominion over our own life that allows us to feel like adults, for we associate maturity with autonomy, the sovereign right to determine what is going to happen to us next.
There, standing in front of a wooden lectern, facing rows and rows of baby-faced and disoriented boys and impressionable, wide-eyed girls, I received my first lessons on the nature of power. I was barely eight years older than these inexperienced students, but between us opened the double abyss of authority and knowledge, things that I had and they, recently arrived in the world, entirely lacked.
What I do remember about that day is that he didn’t strike me as intimidating: he was so thin that he seemed taller than he actually was, and you had to see him standing beside a cue to see that he was barely five foot seven; his thin mousy hair and his dried-out skin and his long, dirty nails gave an impression of illness or laziness, like land gone to waste. He’d just turned forty-eight, but he looked much older.