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Mean Boy

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3.7  ·  Rating details ·  308 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Earnest, small-town Lawrence Campbell is fascinated by his poetry professor, the charismatic and uncompromising Jim Arsenault. Larry is determined to escape a life of thrifty drudgery and intellectual poverty working for his parents' motel and mini-golf business on Prince Edward Island. Jim appears to the young poet as a beacon of authenticity - mercurial, endlessly creati ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published November 7th 2006 by Anchor Canada (first published February 21st 2006)
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Robin Riopelle
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Normally, a book about a charismatic professor/alcoholic who, through the force of his Stellar Personality, figuratively (and, quite literally, literally) seduces his impressionable students, isn't my cup of tea. Perhaps I know too many professors to truly enjoy or even believe the sexual predations of the academics occupying White Noise and the Wonder Boys. The milieu is old-school, pre-sexual harassment days. Not quite Mad Men, but close enough. White men behaving badly when they should and do ...more
Kathy Hiester
Mean Boy is a brilliant spoof on creative writing schools and the remarkable life of a poet. I thought the author's characters were dead on, and she doesn't include an easy plot resolution. Her books are appealing, and yet impulsive. I did think that there was a sort of bogus resolution where she could have ended the book. The real ending felt anticlimactic, and like an attempt to finish on a note of seriousness, rather than wittiness. But the humor in the novel is so distorted by the sympathy a ...more
John
May 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
Mean Boy has its moments but never really took off for me. I almost stopped reading around page 100, but was just interested enough to keep going and finally finish it. But the story never realy goes anywhere and it ends with a whimper. There wasn't really an ending in my opinion. It was like she just didn't have any more ideas so stopped in mid-story. Nothing gets resolved, there was no real climax, nothing that really indicates an ending. Life goes on I guess. I was just left wondering what th ...more
A.J.
Aug 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, literary, canadian, x
Nineteen-year-old aspiring poet Larry Campbell has come to Woodcock University, where he now wishes to be called Lawrence, to become a poet under the tutelage of his hero, poet Jim Arsenault.

This is the funniest Canadian novel I've read in some time. Coady's evocation of the artist as a young man is pitch perfect: his need for approval, his naïveté, his grandiose dreaming. She fleshes out the novel with a cast of memorable characters, whose interactions are wonderfully comic.

Towards the end, th
...more
Violet
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this book. At first I thought it was because it is very thinly veiled a book written with Mount Allison University as its location. But it is not just how accurate a picture of small town liberal arts schools this book draws or the mixed boiler of emotions that comes from being at university with rural routes yourself. This book paints some very poignant metaphors and while the editing of the transcript was at times shoddy and I think the final poem was superfluous I did enjoy ...more
Kurt
Nov 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Kurt by: a professor
Just finished this hilarious yet depressing book. It is destined to be a classic. Great characters and fantastic story line. Set in a maritime Canadian college town. Kids reminded me of my friends and professors reminded me of my professors. Very colloquial, humorous style.
Leah Fitzgerald
Apr 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Great Can Lit - loved that this book was set in my home province, on a university campus that is but isn't one I'm familiar with. Funny, smart, and so appropriate for someone who took creative writing from a published but bitter Lit prof.
Linda Olson
Dec 02, 2009 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this right up to the last page. I had to check to see if pages were missing, so the 3 stars is solely because of my disappointment in the ending.
Ruth Edgett
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Terrific and very funny tale that has the reader harkening back to her own university days.
Pamela
Jul 29, 2014 added it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeff Musgrave
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The writing is loose and easy. I LOVED this book.
Meghan
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Meh.
Kris - My Novelesque Life
2.5 STARS

"Earnest, small-town Lawrence Campbell is fascinated by his poetry professor, the charismatic and uncompromising Jim Arsenault. Larry is determined to escape a life of thrifty drudgery and intellectual poverty working for his parents' motel and mini-golf business on Prince Edward Island. Jim appears to the young poet as a beacon of authenticity - mercurial, endlessly creative, fearless in his confrontations with the forces of conformity. And he drinks a lot.

Jim's magnetic personality so
...more
Clarice
Feb 07, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Autumn
Jul 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: pei, canadian, nb, fiction, humour
This book was so funny, then it turned rather serious toward the end. That didn't take away it's greatness, but did sort of turn my would-be 4 stars into 3. I was laughing out loud until about page 300, then suddenly all of the realities of the book (and potentially there is some mental illness in there, not really sure what to make of Jim's issues) caught up with the loveable protagonist and it was kind of sad at the end.

I loved the sense of place in this story: University, English department,
...more
Kristy Trauzzi
Oct 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
This novel reminded me of the movie Wonder Boys with Michael Douglas. The English world, the big fuss getting that speaker reminded me of the big party at the was it chancellors? The weird student/teacher relationship. The disjointed thoughts and yet the feeling of flow. Just, so odd yet so well done!
I think that there needs to be no student/teacher relations. At all. lol. It's so easy to adore and idolize a prof. Especially when they are the best in their field. And there is just so much to go
...more
Gisela
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wow, what a brilliantly written book. For me, the writing style is what really drew me in -- it's original, it's evocative ... and somehow it just grabbed my attention on the very first line and took me along on a roller-coaster ride with a whole cast of interesting and memorable characters. And as in real life, I had mixed feelings about those characters. Some I just plain liked; some I generally liked, although I kept wishing they'd get their act together; some I felt sorry for; and some I str ...more
Daniel Kukwa
Jan 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian-lit
God, that was quite the trip. I'm not sure if this book rambled to the point of making me pull my hair out in frustration...or rambled in a ridiculously poetic & compelling manner. Perhaps it did both...simultaneously. Perhaps that's why I don't know whether to sing its praises...or throw it out of the nearest window. What I do know is that it wasn't what I expected at all. I'm just not sure of anything else about it...
Shari
Aug 17, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a well-written story about Lawrence Campbell – a boy from small town PEI who travels to a New Brunswick university to study poetry with his hero who turns out to be a big jerk. The book was actually quite boring.
Fiona Maccool
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A must read for anyone who has ever endured a creative writing seminar. Hilarious, fresh and witty book.
Lisa
Feb 02, 2009 added it
Entertaining. Ending threw me a little bit, but good.
Barb
Aug 02, 2011 added it
Not my favorite book
Dianne
Nov 23, 2009 rated it did not like it
Found book hard to get into. Maybe I just did not persevere long enough??? But there so many books I want to read to waste my time struggling with this one. May try it again at a later date.
Gloss
Jan 10, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aca_lit, canadiana
(Really looking forward to this.)
Kyla
May 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
Editors, please Edit. Interesting and funny...for the first 150 pages. Then, Game Over.
Elizabeth
Dec 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
AMAZING book.
Dan Awesome
May 11, 2011 rated it liked it
A good read, but one of those where you keep waiting for something to happen...
Alison Laycraft
Sep 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
I had to quit this one. I really didn't find it engaging. It just kept going on and on, about the disfunction of the prof. I'm not a fan.
Don
rated it liked it
Aug 02, 2012
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Lynn Coady is an award-winning author, editor, and journalist. Her previous novels include Saints of Big Harbour, which was a national bestseller and a Globe and Mail Top 100 book, and Mean Boy, a Globe and Mail Top 100 book. Her popular advice column, Group Therapy, runs weekly in the Globe and Mail. Coady is originally from Cape Breton Island, NS, and is now living in Edmonton, Alberta.
More about Lynn Coady

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“I,” I’ll type. And that will be enough.
Then there are the other days, when nothing is enough. The poem grins. It grins because it knows it is a terrible poem. It grins in embarrassment. It grins in pity. It grins in superiority. I may be a terrible poem, it grins, but at least I have one comfort. At least I’m not a terrible poet. At least I’m not the guy who sat in front of a typewriter for two hours coming up with the likes of me.”
5 likes
“Then there are the other days, when nothing is enough. The poem grins. It grins because it knows it is a terrible poem. It grins in embarrassment. It grins in pity. It grins in superiority. I may be a terrible poem, it grins, but at least I have one comfort. At least I'm not a terrible *poet*. At least I'm not the guy who sat in front of a typewriter for two hours coming up with the likes of *me*.” 2 likes
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