Fiction Book Discussion:
The Topeka School by Ben Lerner
Tuesday September 15th at 7:30 p.m.
A high school debate champion growing up in Topeka, Kansas sounds like a fairly conventional character for a novel. But this is not a conventional novel—it builds through shifting points of view, and it is a book concerned with language and cultural expectation, and how one conveys the other. By the end, you begin to realize that it is a story about how we reached the national state of consciousness we inhabit today. Lerner’s book tells the story of teenager Adam, the debate champion, and Adam’s parents, both psychologists living in Topeka. The entire family struggles at one point or another with success and privilege, something that opens up contradictions within each one of them, and the book itself is a bit of a contradiction—mixing the warmth of 90s nostalgia with the existential anxiousness we recognize so well today.
Copies of the book are available on Hoopla and Libby and may also be reserved for curbside pickup at the library.
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