Quinn, Vincent. “Worth Fighting With”, The Haworth Press, 2007.
Looking for Love
Many of us do not realize how much more difficult it is to write comedy as opposed to writing any other form of literature. Vincent Quinn has succeeded beautifully in writing the comic novel with “Worth Fighting With”. The comedy and wit are acerbic are very wry and campy.
Danny Whelan is a 40 year old academic who realizes that the academic world is catty and academic (take it from me, I know) and very competitive. He is living an existence as unloved and unfulfilled gay college professor with a half finished book on the shelf. Danny is not the only one in this situation and we are all well aware of the number of gay men in English departments. Danny is in the Midlands of England at a small university (this is starting to sound oh so familiar and perhaps that is why I like this book so much) where one’s worth is determined by power, sex and identity. Danny’s career is stagnating along with his emotional life, mainly due to the fact that his point of focus is on young soccer players who do not reciprocate his feelings. We feel his anxieties and resentments along with those of his teaching colleague, Barbara Barnes. Neither of the two expects sex or love but they do attempt to find them. In the academic atmosphere they realize how hard it is to make contact with the world outside of the college campus nor are they able to gain a perspective on their lives. Here we deal with the lack of connection and the inability to fit in the world. Quinn explicates how when we think too much about ourselves, we overlook the most important things about ourselves.
Whelan’s English department is like English departments everywhere. The professors have hard times accepting the realities of modern life and many live in the past with hopes and dreams for the future that they must fight to achieve. It is a world in which creativity of the intellect is measured by the way a class in conduced and a lecture is delivered. Quinn gives his social observation on how hard it is to way a place in the world where love is little more than a label and separate worlds are created by individual insights and insecurities.
Whelan prefers rereading his favorite books rather than finishing his own and the college seems to be a harbor for inflated egos, rivalries based on very small issues and ridiculous bureaucracies. I love novels about campus life and “Worth Fighting With” is now ensconced on my list of books on the subject and takes its place as one of my favorites. For a first novel, Quinn has written a book of which he can be proud. His story of passions both denied and fulfilled is a wonderful character study and a look at academic situations that we do not get very often. Many are not aware of what goes on behind those ivy-covered walls of the modern university and Quinn takes u there with wit and aplomb.
Quinn’s characterizations are A-one, his social vision is biting and his imagination is simply wonderful.