Author shows lighter side of university life in new book

Author shows lighter side of university life in new book
Brendan Rees

Carlton author Dr Leslie Kilmartin has launched his first satirical novel, taking readers on a hilarious journey in what is usually the serious realm of academia. 

The book OPEN DAY is a witty plot about a fictional university located on the edge of Melbourne, which involves a group of “pretty unlovable characters” who all get their just deserts on a “catastrophic” open day. 

“Rather than write yet another dry, academic treatise, I decided to satirise what I knew so well; university councils, senior staff and the ubiquitous marketers whose cringeworthy ‘straplines’ we see on the sides of trams and on billboards,” Dr Kilmartin, a retired professor, dean, and pro-vice chancellor at two Australian universities, said.

He said taking a step back from his mostly formal writing to lampoon the idiosyncrasies of academic life – in this case a fictional institution called Batman University – was enjoyable. 

“I had fun writing my satire and I think readers, whether they know universities or not, will readily identify the types of character and events, which cry out to be satirised. As one reader wrote, it’s a ‘rollicking comic yarn’.”

Dr Kilmartin, said he finished his “surreal satire” a long time ago and had almost given up hope that it would ever be published as “satire, it seems, is not very fashionable these days, especially the surreal variety”.

But when he got the call from his literary agent on July 25 that the book had been published, he said, “I couldn’t believe my ears”.

“I rushed to John’s house (his literary agent) nearby, and also in Carlton and with not a little emotion, received a copy of my novel OPEN DAY. It looked fantastic with its eye-catching cover.”

The book is available from Wakefield Press online, Readings stores across Melbourne and other good bookstores.

An official book launch will be held at Mr Tulk Café, at the State Library of Victoria from 5.30pm to 7pm on Thursday August 3. Enter via La Trobe St.

Copies of the book will be available for sale for $34.95. •

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