The discussion of Closing Time, a Faculty Development Book Talk, will be Thursday, Feb. 18 at 12:30 p.m. in CMU 207. Presenters include Theresa Hest, Communication Studies; Jason Anderson, Communication Studies; Jennifer Tuttle, Theater Arts; and Belle Nelson, LLL. Everyone is invited; students are welcome.

In Closing Time, Joe Queenan’s new memoir, the author was none too pleased with his high school girlfriend when she told him that “she had big plans for her life, and that none of them included me.” She was on her way to study music at Catholic University (out of state, that is), while Joe would be only a few blocks from home, his “dream . . . to make a living by ridiculing people, and it didn’t seem to matter all that much where I got my degree, as you couldn’t major in satire or invective.” Tongue-in-cheek maybe, but Queenan, the author of nine books, is best known today as a humorist and cultural critic, a contributor to publications that include the New York Times, GQ and Rolling Stone.

By the time he matriculates to St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, more than two-thirds of the way through this book, Queenan’s eventual escape—from family, class and the City of Brotherly Love to boot—is a foregone conclusion. Closing Time is a tale of survival, full of the requisite twists and turns, but there’s no question that the author will prevail—it’s only a matter of how. Partly a coming-of-age story, the memoir is mostly a rant—justified—against poverty, and especially against the father Queenan learned to despise well before his tenth birthday.

The third of four children and the only boy, Queenan was raised in rundown neighborhoods by a violent alcoholic and his mostly indifferent wife, who holed herself up in an adjacent room with the newspaper when one of her children took a beating. In 12 chapters and an epilogue, the author takes the reader from elementary school in the 1950s all the way to the triumph of his own daughter’s acceptance to Harvard in 2001. (From LA Times April 15, 2009.)