Academic journal article American Studies

Fight for Your Long Day

Academic journal article American Studies

Fight for Your Long Day

Article excerpt

FIGHT FOR YOUR LONG DAY. By Alex Kudera. Atticus Books, Kensington, MD. 2010.

While Alex Kudera's novel, Fight for Your Long Day, highlights the grave socio-economic injustices of a corrupt academic system, it is much more than a preachy manifesto. Cyrus Duffelman's struggles are that of any of the economically repressed. But when college professors earn Wal-mart wages, it highlights a shocking disconnect between the hollow political rhetoric of the importance of education and the true reality. Cyrus inhabits a world of increasing impoverishment. This is the landscape of essayist and cultural critic Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed.

It would be a cliché to call him a modern day Everyman. Cyrus is a real person with frailties, insecurities, yet with conviction and seriousness about what he does. He does represent a growing class of academic paupers in particular and the growing dominance of menial wages everywhere in America in general whether the work is menial or not. And, yet, it's not little enough. Menial wages, that is. Another sad irony is that the adjunct is no lifetime indentured servant, but rather an endangered species as institutions of higher learning contemplate "satellite hookups and TVs in every classroom . . . with the finest Indian universities teaching virtual classes long-distance . . . The fifteen grand a year they were paying the graduate student [or adjunct] has become fifteen hundred for a hungrier South Asian" (207-208).

Cyrus is doubly invisible. No one "sees" him-just as the adjunct inequity is on almost no one's radar-and because Cyrus wields no power or status, he hopes not to be seen. He continues on not in hope of reward or changing the system, but in adherence to his own personal code of conduct, and he is his own harshest critic. …

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