With his novel The Magicians, author Lev Grossman offers an astringent antidote to Pollyanna Harry Potter mania. As he told the Village Voice, he wanted a Potter-like character who was having sex instead of snogging, or drinking real beer instead of butterbeer, if... his friends didnt have a Voldemort in their universe to tell them whos good and whos evil. So he sent his characters to Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, where they wrestle with promiscuity, booze, depression, and drugs as they realize theyve acquired sorcery skills that have no value in the real world. Its a familiar plotline for Grossman, who dropped out of a comparative lit PhD program at Yale after deciding such education was ultimately futile. Grossman is the senior book critic for Time and has written for outfits such as the New York Times and Salon. The New Yorker named The Magicians, his third novel, one of the best books of 2009.
Sun., Nov. 21, 2 p.m., 2010