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Beach Reading: Stephen Carter’s New Novel

New England White.jpg
Our old professors continue to churn out best-selling fiction. First it was Stephen Carter, our contracts professor, who stunned the publishing world — and the YLS faculty — with a $4 million advance for his first thriller, The Emperor of Ocean Park.
Then our con law professor, Jed Rubenfeld, came out with a novel of his own, the creepy psychological thriller The Interpretation of Murder. (Above the Law did a post on the Rubenfeld book here.)
Now Stephen Carter is back with his second novel, New England White.
The New York Times gives it an approving review and offers us a taste of the plot:

The whiteness that appalls in Stephen L. Carter’s stylishly written new novel, “New England White,” is only partly the snow, which sifts through the “Gothic sprawl” of the university campus in “grimy, dilapidated” Elm Harbor in the late fall of 2003. In a coy author’s note we are assured that Elm Harbor is “not a thinly disguised New Haven,” so the unnamed university is presumably not a thinly disguised Yale, where Carter — author of a previous best-selling thriller, “The Emperor of Ocean Park,” as well as highly regarded books on the pitfalls of affirmative action and the proper place of religion in public life — has taught in the law school since 1982.
For Lemaster Carlyle, president of the university, the “heart of whiteness” is the creepy bedroom community of Tyler’s Landing, population 3,000, of whom five families, including the Carlyles, happen to be black. In the Landing, as it is called, Lemaster and his wife, Julia, a deputy dean of the divinity school, live in an ostentatious house with their two daughters, Vanessa (“16 going on 50”) and Jeannie, and “a smelly feline mutt” named Rainbow Coalition. Lemaster’s college roommate, now president of the United States (“the big president”) and up for re-election, sometimes calls to chat. To their envious neighbors on Hunter’s Meadow Road, “where the houses stood continents apart,” the Carlyles seem to have it all. But those “invisible spheres” Melville mentioned are about to crack the veneer of their seemingly perfect lives.

Sounds intriguing. We enjoyed The Emperor of Ocean Park until the end, which we didn’t think lived up to the suspense Carter masterfully built up throughout the rest of the book (Note to Professor Carter: We’re giving you more feedback here than you gave us on that contracts exam).

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