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Professor explores life and fatherhood in 'Kids These Days'

With a dose of humor and grace, Associate Professor Drew Perry's second novel spins the tale of a man and his wife who relocate to Florida and find themselves swept into the shady dealings and family drama of their in-laws. Listen to him read excerpts and share his thoughts in a short video interview.

 

Walter Ingram and his wife, Alice, live a cozy existence in Charlotte, N.C., when Walter loses his job as a  loan officer shortly after they learn Alice is expecting. On a whim, the couple moves to Florida and takes up residence in a beachfront condo that belonged the Alice's recently deceased aunt.

With Alice's sister and her family only a few miles away, Walter quickly finds work with his brother-in-law, Mid, whose business associates and odd behavior lead to run-ins with the law. At the same time Walter worries about his own abilites to raise a child, he and Alice watch Mid's family start to fray in a series of comedic episodes centered around Mid's 15-year-old daughter.

Associate Professor Drew Perry

Such is the premise to "Kids These Days," the latest novel by Elon University Associate Professor of English Drew Perry. Published this month by Algonquin, the book has already earned rave reviews, including:

  • "Honest, filled with doubts, often hilarious, and just a little bit scary, is sure to appeal to all parents, new and old—even the ones still standing on the sidelines, trying to get all their ducks in a row first. Especially them." - Gina Webb, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • "Perry's Florida is strange and intricate... and [his] quick-witted observations and surprising plot twists unveil humor in adversity." - Booklist
  • "A timely look at contemporary America, with its unexpected economic setbacks and the bargains made to surmount them. Readers of Nick Hornby, Dave Eggers, and Jonathan Tropper should enjoy this compelling novel, the story of a man in transition that might lure a few Florida fiction fans as well." - Library Journal
  • "A terrific writer, Perry has written a wonderful book about a man dealing with—among other things—the angst of impending fatherhood. It's sweet, soulful, smart, and funny as hell. A great read." - Dave Barry, author of "Insane City" and winner of the Pulitzer Prize
  • "This book is so funny and engaging that I was reading it and forgot to pick up my kids." -Tom Franklin, author of "Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter"

"Kids These Days" is Perry's second book and follows his 2010 novel about fatherhood anxiety, "This is Just Exactly Life You."

A third future novel, which carries the working title of "The Unknowns," is more ambitious in size and scope. The first two were roughly contemporary, with single narrators, and covering a span of a few weeks or months. Situated around two Space Shuttle disasters of 1986 and 2003, the work-in-progress is historical, with multiple narrators. It aims to be a book that asks big questions and seeks to comment on the "American Experiment" in more direct ways.

Perry was selected as Senior Faculty Research Fellows for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years to help him complete the book. The award comprises a two-course reassignment for two consecutive years, plus $2,000 per year in research funding, in support of a significant project or set of projects that advance an already well-established and promising research agenda.

Eric Townsend,
Staff
1/27/2014 3:40 PM