The Mind and Body Shop

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When Professor Hambro, chairman of the Department of Philosophy at a thriving provincial university, fails to come up with enough students or funds to please his vice-chancellor, a former sales representative for Consolidated Tractor Fuels with an honorary degree in Laundry Administration, he is threatened with expulsion. To make things worse, his wife Margery, whom he married in an attempt to emulate the class-crossing romance of his hero, George Orwell, seems to be rebelling, inexplicably irritated because he cannot remember her name. Will Hambro be able to sell Immanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer to the denizens of the Bangkok Pleasure Palace, where he has been forced to set up a storefront recruiting office? Will the beautiful professor of psychology, Hedda Hagstrom, be able to renew her grant by fudging the results of her experiment in teaching apes to play Monopoly? Will the opening of the Khomeini Center for the Propagation of Islam run smoothly?

THE MIND AND BODY SHOP is a ribald and very funny commentary on the contemporary academic world, filled with memorable and eccentric characters and increasingly absurd situations. As in his previous novel, KRIPPENDORF’S TRIBE, Frank Parkin, a Fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford, hits his targets with merciless accuracy, puncturing academic pretensions and lampooning everything from sex therapy to class consciousness. It is hard to imagine anyone with experience of college life on either side of the Atlantic who could read this without both belly laughs and a squirm of recognition.