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Something for Nothing

Something for Nothing: A Novel

Michael W. Klein
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Something for Nothing
    Book Description:

    David Fox (Ph.D. Economics, Columbia, Visiting Assistant Professor at Kester College, Knittersville, New York) is having a stressful year. He has a temporary position at a small college in a small town miles from everything except Albany. His students have never read Freakonomics. He thinks he is getting the hang of teaching, but a smart and beautiful young woman in his Economics of Social Issues class is distractingly flirtatious. His research is stagnant, to put it kindly. His search for a tenure-track job looms dauntingly. (The previous visiting assistant professor of economics is now working in a bookstore.) So when a right-wing think tank called the Center to Research Opportunities for a Spiritual Society (CROSS)--affiliated with the Salvation Academy for Value Economics (SAVE)--wants to publish (and publicize) a paper he wrote as a graduate student showing the benefits of high school abstinence programs, fetchingly retitled "Something for Nothing," he ignores his misgivings and accepts happily. After all, publication is "the coin of the realm," as a senior colleague puts it.But David faces a personal dilemma when his prized results are cast into doubt. The school year is filled with other challenges as well, including faculty politics, a romance with a Knittersville native, running the annual interview gauntlet, and delivering the culminating "job talk" lecture under trying circumstances. David's adventures offer an instructive fictional guide for the young economist and an entertaining and comic tale for everyone interested in questions of balancing career and life, success and integrity, and loyalty and desire.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-29884-1
    Subjects: Economics, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Prologue
    (pp. vii-viii)

    It was all a lie.

    But was that such a bad thing?

    Of course, he didn’t want anyone to know that he was lying. Could they tell? Did his voice give him away? His posture? His hands?

    He imagined his lie made material: a bright yellow balloon floating above his head for all to see.

    But if lies were material, how many balloons would there be in this room? Standing at the lectern, he looked out across the rows and rows of seats.

    There would be a pink balloon floating above his best friend who was sitting in the fifth...

  3. Labor Day

    • Chapter 1
      (pp. 3-10)

      “It’s so hard to know what’s true. You’d think that this building, with its fieldstones and ivy, was dearly meant to be part of a college. But people in town always said that old Francis Kester hedged his bets and made sure that, if his college failed, Central Hall could be just another textile mill.”

      David Fox, on the campus of Kester College for the first time, followed Jeff White out of the late summer sunlight and into the cool, dark entryway of Central Hall. As an untenured assistant professor in the Economics Department, Jeff’s responsibilities included teaching, research, and...

    • Chapter 2
      (pp. 11-16)

      “So they’ve got you in this shithole now.”

      David, who had been intently focused on the screen of his laptop, looked up with a start. He had not noticed the heavy-set man taking up most of the doorway of his office. The man, about David’s own age, wearing an open-necked, striped oxford shirt and tweed coat, fixed David with a look that made it seem as if he had been watching him for some time.

      “Can I help you?”

      “Just here to retrieve my books.”

      “Oh, you must be Professor Van Ronan.”

      “I used to be Professor Van Ronan, now...

    • Chapter 3
      (pp. 17-24)

      David sat at a table in the kitchen of the apartment he had rented, his laptop and a cup of steaming coffee in front of him. Even on a visiting professor’s salary, he could afford a decent one-bedroom apartment in Knittersville, one that was large and sunny, at least as compared to the single room in Manhattan that had served as office, bedroom, and living room when he was a graduate student at Columbia. The apartment, one of six in the building, was also only five blocks from campus, and a ten-minute walk to his office in Central Hall. This...

    • Chapter 4
      (pp. 25-32)

      After the longest seventy-five minutes of his life, or at least the longest seventy-five minutes since his dissertation defense four months earlier, the class ended and David gathered his books and notes. He was somewhat surprised, and even a bit relieved, when some of the students (including Sexy Baby, Navel Ring, and Backward Mets Hat) said “Bye” on their way out. He had been expecting “Good riddance.”

      Leaving the classroom building and emerging into the early autumn sunshine, David saw Jeff White approaching from the direction of Central Hall. Jeff noticed him as well and waved.

      “So how was your...

    • Chapter 5
      (pp. 33-38)

      “Are you busy?”

      David looked up from the screen of his laptop and recognized the young woman standing at the open door of his office as a student in his Economics of Social Issues class. Jennifer something. Jennifer Lake or Jennifer McCratchen? One or the other. They were both blond and attractive, and, after two weeks of classes, he had not yet gotten their names straight.

      “No, not at all. Come in.”

      He wasn’t just being polite. He really wasn’t busy, or, rather, he really wasn’t productive. He had started a web search for new articles on the environmental impact...

    • Chapter 6
      (pp. 39-44)

      Far from Kester College, in a cubicle on the third floor of a newly constructed low concrete building in the foothills of rural Virginia, Greg Shankle read the Bible. Greg was not being derelict in his duties as an economics research assistant. He wasn’t even demonstrating his strong devotion to his faith. He was simply responding to incentives. His work-study contract during this, his second year in the Salvation Academy for Value Economics (SAVE), stipulated that he could earn time-and-a-half during a fifteen-minute scripture break every two hours. This clause reflected the beliefs of the directors of SAVE in two...

    • Chapter 7
      (pp. 45-52)

      Kester College’s Weissmuller Pool shows what happens when you assume too much. A full-length portrait of a portly, older gentleman dressed in a three-piece suit that was fashionable in the early 1950s dominates the entrance hall. The assumption made by most visitors to the pool was that Johnny Weissmuller, the Olympic swimmer and star of the Tarzan movies of the 1930s and 1940s, had really let himself go in his middle years. The truth, however, is that the pool was funded by a generous donation from Fredrick Weissmuller, Johnny’s cousin. Fredrick was not as good a swimmer as his more...

    • Chapter 8
      (pp. 53-60)

      Is economics useful for everyday life? Scarcity is the central economic challenge. The most common scarce resource is time since absolutely nobody feels as if they have enough of it. Economic theory has something to say about this, about how to allocate scarce hours. If the long-run benefit to your career of an additional hour spent working on your research exceeds the benefit of an additional hour spent preparing for class, then, by all means, get that data set in order. If you have more fun (the common name for what economists call “utility”) watching one more movie than reading...

    • Chapter 9
      (pp. 61-66)

      Bill Crocker found himself spending more and more time staring out the window of his corner office at the Center to Research Opportunities for a Spiritual Society as September turned into October. This had little to do with an appreciation of the changing colors of the trees in the Virginia foothills. Instead, Crocker’s focus was on ways to grow CROSS from an acorn into a mighty oak. But his efforts had not taken root so far. Lord knows, this wasn’t for a lack of effort. He had done his darnedest to make CROSS an important voice for godly analysis and...

    • Chapter 10
      (pp. 67-74)

      It was an especially beautiful autumn evening as David walked to the Weissmuller Pool. The last sunlight of the day streamed through the gold and yellow leaves of the trees at the edge of campus. The high, wispy clouds in the otherwise clear sky glowed red as the sun set. David realized, of course, that in a half hour the clouds would be dark and, in a few weeks the leaves would be down, but, for now, it was lovely.

      Clearly anyone would have found this campus, on this day, at this time, a beautiful sight. But David’s perception was...

    • Chapter 11
      (pp. 75-82)

      “It was really cool. I was discussing school voucher programs in my Social Issues course, and this student, Jason Baugh, asked how we could know whether better school performance was because the schools were better, or because parents who decided to use the vouchers were more involved with their kids’ education. That’s a pretty subtle point for a sophomore to think up on his own.”

      David and Jeff were entering the dining hall as David excitedly recounted how Jason’s point started a class discussion on methodology. David tried to raise the more general point that the conclusions drawn by an...

    • Chapter 12
      (pp. 83-88)

      It appeared to be a butterfly.

      Jenny Lake had come to David’s office for her regular Wednesday meeting about her thesis. In the last two weeks, David had found himself less focused on her body, and more on her mind, since he had shifted his ongoing interest in the female physique from Jenny to Angie. But it was hard not to notice her attractive body this afternoon, on the last day of October, since she came to his office dressed in a white full-body leotard. The only way David could avoid staring at her body was to focus on the...

    • Chapter 13
      (pp. 89-94)

      “They say Lark Street is Albany’s Greenwich Village.”

      “Jeff, Albany doesn’t have a Greenwich Village.”

      “Okay, David, you’ve made your point. We’re not in Manhattan, but at least Jeff’s trying to be positive about this trip.”

      “Angie, I’m not being negative, just realistic.”

      “Realism is a social construct.”

      David turned his eyes from Lark Street to look at Angie, sitting in the passenger seat across from him, and smiled despite himself. “What did you say?”

      “David, everyone knows that realism is a social construct. And right now, you’re not being very sociable.” Angie laughed after she said this.

      “And you’re...

  4. Thanksgiving

    • Chapter 14
      (pp. 99-108)

      Greg was looking forward to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, he really was. In a few days, there would be a big turkey dinner with his family. Then after dinner, just as in the past, he would join his younger brothers, his dad, and his grandpa in the rec room to watch football on TV. His mom would pamper him—the son who went away to college—during the rest of the weekend, baking his favorite Rice Krispies squares and serving these to him along with a big glass of milk.

      Greg liked spending time with his family. But ever since...

    • Chapter 15
      (pp. 109-116)

      Thanksgiving was a workday for Bill Crocker and had been for some time. When employed by the National Tobacco Institute, he invited a number of his tobacco industry clients to Thanksgiving each year (“This turkey’s so good because it’s smoked” always got an appreciative chuckle). Now, as the director of CROSS, he and his wife Sally played host to some of the organization’s trustees. There was little difference between the extent of holiday preparation back when he worked for the National Tobacco Institute and those he currently faced as the director of CROSS. Nor was there much difference in the...

    • Chapter 16
      (pp. 117-126)

      David had successfully negotiated a one-day visit with his parents during the Thanksgiving holiday, despite their initial efforts to get him to stay from Wednesday night until Sunday afternoon. The deal agreed to by the parties stipulated that David Fox would leave Knittersville early on Thursday morning and drive directly to the residence of his parents, Harry and Ruth Fox, in the suburbs of Boston, arriving well before dinner was scheduled to be served at 2:00. David would stay over in “his” room on Thursday night, a room that, in fact, had long since been made into a TV den...

    • Chapter 17
      (pp. 127-134)

      David had not planned to work on Friday afternoon or on Saturday, despite the reason he had given his parents for departing early. In fact, his main motivation for returning to Knittersville, the one he did not share with his parents, was foremost on his mind as he got on the Massachusetts Turnpike on Friday morning. He called Angie as he began to drive west to arrange to meet her for a drink at the Cask and Barrel when he returned to town. Much to his dismay, Angie was unexpectedly tied up with her family. She asked if he would...

    • Chapter 18
      (pp. 135-146)

      David awoke on the Monday alter the Thanksgiving break to find four inches of freshly fallen snow covering Knittersville. Snowflakes had been in the air earlier in November, but, up until this storm, there was nothing more than a light dusting that melted on the roads as soon as it alighted. This was different. The snow on the ground this morning would remain until March. This snowfall shifted the season, overnight, from autumn to winter.

      But it did not take a coating of snow to make the first day of classes alter Thanksgiving seem like the beginning of a new...

    • Chapter 19
      (pp. 147-150)

      And just like that, it was over.

      Alan Glidden thanked him quickly once they went to commercial break, and then hung up. After a few seconds, David hung up too.

      He looked at the digital dock on his desk. 5:25. If everyone got fifteen minutes of fame, he still had five minutes left. But he really didn’t want it.

      He looked out the window. It was dark.

      He couldn’t call anybody. No one he knew listened toTalk Right,and he didn’t think he wanted anyone to know he was on the show.

      Maybe Curt, Diane, and Ron were the...

    • Chapter 20
      (pp. 151-158)

      Greg Shankle did not make a habit of listening toTalk Righton a regular basis, but he did try to tune in when he knew there would be a segment about economics. In fact, he liked to listen to any talk radio shows that discussed economics, even if the show typically had a liberal bias, like those broadcast on National Public Radio. Greg did not share these eclectic tastes with his friends in SAVE since, as far as he knew, most of them thought it inappropriate to waste time with the liberal media (his classmates claimed NPR stood for...

    • Chapter 21
      (pp. 159-164)

      Randolph Carlson, like all the other professors at Kester College, had done the post-Thanksgiving calculation on material remaining to be covered versus time available. But, unlike the other professors who also spent September, October, and early November regaling their students with political opinions, personal reflections, and witty asides, Randy (as he requested the students call him) found that he had too little, rather than too much, material for his final five lectures in his course Threats to Liberty. It wasn’t that there were too few instances in the world of the extreme right oppressing freedom of thought and action; it...

    • Chapter 22
      (pp. 165-170)

      On the last day of classes of the full semester, David was in his office early in the morning to look over the final PowerPoint slides for his courses. He had placed the full set of PowerPoint slides for his Principles of Economics course in one neat stack on his desk, and the full set of slides fur his Economics of Social Issues course in another stack. These two stacks represented most of his productivity during the fall. He felt good about the courses that he taught, thinking that the students who had applied themselves and followed the material had...

    • Chapter 23
      (pp. 171-176)

      There are lots of wonderful things about being a professor, but grading is not one of them. Students need to be evaluated, but can you really tell how much someone knows from a few exams, or a couple of papers? And how do you know an evaluation has not been colored by factors other than academic performance? It’s easy to impute a depth of knowledge that may not really be there when a student is particularly earnest, or hardworking, or, let’s be truthful now, good-looking.

      These concerns went through David’s mind as he sat at the desk in his office,...

    • Chapter 24
      (pp. 177-182)

      “So I arranged the interviews from Thursday through Saturday in a way that none of them are back-to-back. It wasn’t easy, since I have fourteen, not counting Kester of course, but it seemed really important to try to schedule them so I wouldn’t have to rush from one to the next.”

      David and Angie were dining at the Cask and Barrel. They had not seen each other for a week, since Angie had been traveling for work. David kept busy grading exams during that time. He had also spent the week fielding calls from the chairs of hiring committees, many...

  5. New Year

    • Chapter 25
      (pp. 185-190)

      A–F; G–M; N–Z.


      “David Fox.”

      The woman seated behind the counter shuffled through the large envelopes in the box in front of her, and then selected one, drew it out, and handed it, along with a blue canvas bag, across the counter to him.

      “Here you are Mr. Fox. Welcome to Boston.”

      He opened the envelope as he turned and walked away from the counter. He took out the paperback directory of sessions, the loose papers that included a hotel map, and his name tag (“DAVID” in large font, “Professor David Fox” below that in...

    • Chapter 26
      (pp. 191-196)

      A–F; G–M; N–Z.


      “Greg Shankle.”

      “Could you spell that please?”


      “Thank you, Mr. Shankle. Welcome to Boston.”

      Greg peered inside the envelope the woman behind the counter had handed to him. Inside was a guidebook listing the conference presentations, some loose papers, and a name rag (GREG/Greg Shankle/CROSS—SAVE).

      “Mr. Shankle, you also get this bag,” the woman said, as she handed him a blue canvas bag with “American Economic Association 2008 Annual Conference, Boston, Massachusetts” written on it. “Cool,” he said to himself. He took his envelope and his bag to a chair at the side of...

    • Chapter 27
      (pp. 197-204)

      The first two days of the conference had gone well for David. After his interview with Grindle, he spent the rest of Thursday meeting with the search committees from five other colleges. Friday was similarly busy, with six interviews. Each of the interviews seemed successful. There was some discussion about his teaching experience in almost all of the interviews, and questions about the prospects for his dissertation chapters becoming journal articles in most cases. One common theme of all the interviews was “Something for Nothing.” This was not so surprising, since he’d included the clipping fromUSA Todayin his...

    • Chapter 28
      (pp. 205-210)

      David finished his last two interviews on Saturday morning, with the final one ending at noon. He was in no rush to leave the hotels where the meetings were being held. If he lingered around, he might run into some friends, or some of the people with whom he had interviewed, or Maria Lopez-Schneider. He had to stick around for a while anyway since he had committed to meet the student from CROSS, Greg Shankle, at 12:15. He was appreciative of what CROSS had done for him and was happy to meet with Shankle. But he hoped that this meeting...

    • Chapter 29
      (pp. 211-216)

      David returned to Knittersville on Sunday, the day after the conference ended. He left his parents’ house mid-afternoon, and drove due west on the Massachusetts Turnpike, toward the sunset that turned the low clouds red, then purple. The clouds darkened as the sun sank below the horizon, becoming a shade of indigo slightly darker than the open sky around them. He listened to rock stations, switching from one to another as the signals faded. In Western Massachusetts, with no good stations coming in, he switched the radio off and began to sing to himself. He was a little startled when,...

    • Chapter 30
      (pp. 217-224)

      David flew from Albany to Portland on a small prop jet that had twenty-four seats. The plane left Albany in the early afternoon, rising above the snow-covered hills near the airport and then eventually leveling off as it crossed the Berkshire Mountains. He had planned to review the Power Point slides for his presentation, but his seat was too narrow, and too close to the seat in the row in front of him, to use his laptop comfortably. So, instead, he gazed out the window at the forests of New England and then, as the plane began its descent over...

    • Chapter 31
      (pp. 225-230)

      “Why did you become an economist?”

      David looked across the breakfast table at Eric Samuels, a Brunsfield senior, and realized that no one had ever actually asked him that question before. Nor had he prepared an answer for it, the way he had prepped for questions about his teaching plans and research strategies. He knew that the students joining him for breakfast, Eric, Joy Cohen, and Amy Romero, did not really have a vote in the Economics Department’s decision about whom to hire. They would just be asked whether they thought he would fit in well at Brunsfield. He guessed...

    • Chapter 32
      (pp. 231-238)

      Spring semester seems misnamed when it begins at Kester College. Snow covers the ground, the temperature is often in single digits, and the sun sets well before the staff leaves the college at 5:00. In upstate New York in late January, there is nothing to suggest the renewal typically associated with spring. But, in fact, the beginning of the second semester is a time of new classes, and new opportunities for both professors and students.

      Fortunately, not everything in the spring semester was going to be new for David. The Principles of Economics course he was scheduled to teach would...

    • Chapter 33
      (pp. 239-244)

      Greg loved math puzzles and had always been good at them. Part of his attraction to economics was that understanding some aspects of it, especially statistics and econometrics, was just like mastering a math puzzle. Greg’s experience in college, and at SAVE, convinced him that he could figure out any of the technical economic problems presented to him in his coursework. So far, he had been right.

      But Greg was not just a math geek; he also liked the moral dimension of economics. That was why he liked David’s work (since their lunch together, and especially after all the e-mails...

    • Chapter 34
      (pp. 245-250)

      The new year brought a number of new opportunities for Bill Crocker. Most of the media attention about “Something for Nothing” had died down by Christmas, but there was still a trickle of interest in the article, mostly from small local newspapers. Even though interest in that one particularCROSS Currentsworking paper was fading, interest in CROSS itself was on the ascent. Editors from bothGood News!and theLiberty Reviewhad contacted him about doing cover stories on the new Christian think tanks, stories that would prominently feature CROSS. Crocker was encouraged. But he had been in the...

    • Chapter 35
      (pp. 251-256)

      Pamela Winship was nothing if not practical. She also had an ability to quickly size up a situation and determine what course of action to take. These attributes, along with her strawberry blonde hair, high cheekbones, and long legs, all helped her move from a small town in West Virginia through a series of jobs to her current position as assistant to the director of CROSS. And now, with an increase in the prospects of the director of CROSS, it could very well be that there was a corresponding increase in Pamela’s prospects as well.

      This is not to say...

    • Chapter 36
      (pp. 257-260)


      “Hi, David. It’s Greg.”

      “Greg, hi, how are you?”

      “Okay. Well, actually, not so good.”

      “What’s wrong? You sound worried.”

      “I spoke with Dr. Crocker yesterday and told him about our new results. He got pretty angry.”

      “I can’t say that I’m surprised.”

      “Crocker said that if I told anybody about those results he would have me kicked out of SAVE.”

      “He can’t do that.”

      “He can, and he said he would. He also said that there were some problems with the time sheets I turned in, and they would be considering whether that meant I had stolen money...

    • Chapter 37
      (pp. 261-266)

      There’s a geography of classroom seating familiar to anyone who has attended a medium-sized college course. No men sit in the front row, and almost no women sit in the back row. The women who sit in the front row are those who take neat, well-organized notes, answer questions, and do not challenge the professor’s opinion. The men who sit in the back row may take notes, or they may just be doodling. They never voluntarily answer questions. The second and third rows are filled with students who are committed to the class but are also concerned about not appearing...

  6. Spring Break

    • Chapter 38
      (pp. 269-274)

      Locals refer to five seasons in upstate New York: spring, summer, full, winter, and mud. Kester College’s one-week vacation in mid-March is called “spring break.” “Mud break” would more accurately reflect regional conditions at the time.

      “Mud” was also a pretty good description of David’s emotional state by the beginning of March. He had phoned Angie a couple of times in February. Their conversations were cordial enough. She asked about his job search, and he tried to sound positive. He made a point of asking about her job, and of sounding encouraging about her prospects at Knit Ware. He told...

    • Chapter 39
      (pp. 275-280)

      “Tell me about the Center to Research Opportunities for a Spiritual Society.”

      Crocker leaned back in his chair slightly and put his hands on his desk. He wanted to exude a sense of gravitas to Mason Freeman, but he didn’t want to come across as pompous. The right pose would be one where he and Freeman conversed as equals, man-to-man, or, even better yet, thinking-man-of-the-right-to-thinking-man-of-the-right. And also friend-to-friend. He wanted Freeman to feel that they were friends, even though they had just met that morning.

      His first impression of Freeman worried him a little. In his rumpled sports coat, corduroy...

    • Chapter 40
      (pp. 281-284)


      A vaguely familiar woman’s voice said, “Professor David Fox, please.”

      “This is Professor Fox.”

      “Please hold for a call from Bill Crocker.”

      In the few seconds before Crocker came on the line, he felt his heart sink. This call had been expected ever since Greg alerted him that some magazine writer had visited CROSS. In fact, a call from Crocker was anticipated ever since early January when Greg told him about the flaws in “Something for Nothing.”

      “David, Bill Crocker. It’s good to speak with you again.”

      He was surprised at the pleasant tone of Crocker’s voice, given what...

    • Chapter 41
      (pp. 285-290)

      David would have paced around his office, but the space was far too small. He had to get out. So, without packing his briefcase or turning off his computer, he grabbed his jacket, left his office, exited Central Hall, and walked off the campus of Kester College and onto the streets of Knittersville.

      The days were getting longer and, even though it was 4:30, the sun was warm. As he began to walk, he thought about Crocker, “Something for Nothing,” and his upcoming presentation next week. But, as the shadows got longer and the air cooled, he found himself focusing...

    • Chapter 42
      (pp. 291-296)

      “Professor Geoffrey Wellingham, please.”

      “This is Professor Wellingham.”

      “Please hold for a call from Dr. William Crocker, director of CROSS.”

      Professor Wellingham tried to recall if he had ever met Dr. William Crocker, or if he had heard of CROSS before. He could not answer either of these two questions in the few seconds available to him. But he did immediately realize that a call initiated by someone’s secretary was a call worth taking.

      “Professor Wellingham, this is Bill Crocker.”

      “Dr. Crocker, good to speak with you. What can I do for you today?”

      “Well, Professor, there isn’t much that...

    • Chapter 43
      (pp. 297-304)

      Jeff White answered the knock on his office door. “Yes?”

      It was David. “Hi, Jeff, do you want to get lunch today?”

      “Sure, where do you want to go?”

      “The cafeteria would be fine.”

      “I thought you were avoiding the cafeteria because you didn’t want to see Giovanna.”

      “No, that’s okay. I actually saw Giovanna yesterday.”

      “On a Sunday?”

      “Yeah, I saw her when I went to pick up Angie.”

      Jeff leaned back in his chair and smiled. “You saw Angie? Good for you.”

      In fact, it was good for him. It was wonderful to see Angie when he stopped...

    • Chapter 44
      (pp. 305-312)

      Room 1 is the largest and most modern classroom in Central Hall. The stage at the front of the room is raised a step’s height above the floor. Standing at the lectern on the stage, a speaker looks out at over one hundred fifty cushioned seats arranged in a gently rising slope from the front of the room to its back. A speaker would not be faulted for thinking he was inside a modern version of a Greek amphitheater or, with a less congenial audience, the Roman Colosseum.

      David felt himself more in the Colosseum than in an amphitheater in...

    • Chapter 45
      (pp. 313-318)

      The reception was held in the wide hallway in front of Room 1. Small sandwiches and crudités were lined up on a couple of tables, students dressed in white shirts and black slacks circulated with trays of hot hors d’oeuvres, and a bartender poured wine, beer, and soda. Randolph Carlson and some of his students left before the seminar ended, but the all the others stayed, standing in groups of three or four people, chatting and attempting to balance a glass and a small plate of food.

      Murray Stern had come up to David immediately after the seminar and told...

  7. Commencement

    • Chapter 46
      (pp. 321-324)

      It was going to be a small party, but it promised to be a happy one. Jeff White invited all the members of the Economics Department along with their guests and his other friends to his apartment on the Friday night of commencement weekend to celebrate his official offer of tenure by the Board of Trustees of Kester College earlier that day. The decision had really been made in a series of earlier steps, with the unanimous vote of the Economics Department right after spring break, the vote of the Arts and Sciences Tenure and Promotion Committee a month after...