MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Excerpt from The Truants by Kate Weinberg, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Truants

by Kate Weinberg

The Truants by Kate Weinberg X
The Truants by Kate Weinberg
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  • Published:
    Jan 2020, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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Print Excerpt

Chapter 1

Dear Dr. Clay,

Having been ill for most of Freshers' Week, I have only just made it down to the English department to open my mail. I was due to start your course "The Devil Has the Best Lines" next Tuesday, but a note from the administration office informs me that due to "oversubscription" my place has been deferred to "a future date as yet unknown."

I am writing to tell you just how crushed I am by this news. Since I first read your masterpiece The Truants I have considered your scorching and irreverent commentary as something of a manifesto for life. I applied to this university purely so that I could be taught by you, and on receiving a place immediately requested to study in either of the modules that you offer this term. Since my place in "The Devil Has the Best Lines" was confirmed at the beginning of the summer I have completed the reading list, including a full immersion in the gin-soaked minds of Hunter S. Thompson, Zelda Fitzgerald, and John Cheever.

I did this mainly in the back room of a pet shop in Reigate where I took a job this summer, cleaning shit out of budgerigar and hamster cages so that I could finance my studies. All of which was made bearable by the idea of being taught by you.

So this news is a blow indeed. Considering we have not yet met I can't understand what I have done ...

Someone knocked on the door. I ignored it and carried on typing furiously.

... that makes me suddenly less desirable or eligible than another student ...

More knocking.

It feels, to paraphrase a famous poem, like someone is treading all over my dreams. I am writing this letter as a last-ditch attempt, an appeal to your humanity ...

The door banged open. A blond guy with lazy, knowing eyes in a handsome face. Mark, or maybe Max. Second year. Historian. Let's say Max.

For a moment he stared at me in confusion. Then his gaze moved from where I was sitting cross-legged on the bed and roved suspiciously over the contents of the room: bare, Blu Tack-scarred walls, narrow single bed, small hanging wardrobe, my half-unpacked suitcase.

"Sorry, wrong room." He had already turned to go when he twisted round, hand on the doorframe. "Hey ... Didn't we meet in the bar last night?"

I nodded, biting back a sarcastic comment. I have lots of very curly, long dark hair, a wide mouth, and quite a slight figure: Boys notice me briefly, I think, then look elsewhere. Max had patently introduced himself-walking toward me, smiling straight into my eyes-in the hope of chatting up Georgie. A moment of deference toward the friend of the target ... I knew the score. It had already happened a couple of times last night, enough to make me suspect that my new friend was one of those girls that men find irresistible. Something about her almost too-curvy body, her boyishly cropped blond hair, her sloping, sleepy eyes made everyone-even me-think about sex.

"So, Georgie's a good friend of yours?" Max said, sitting down on the end of my bed and pushing back a fringe of newly washed hair.

"Kind of." If it hadn't been for the letter I'd just been writing, I might have been amused by being used so transparently. Tapping out the end of my sentence, I signed off with a digital flourish: Yours, ever-hopeful, Jessica Walker.

"You weren't at school together or anything?"

"Why do you ask?"

"Just wondering. Girls are so tight with girls they've met at school. You seemed kind of into each other." He was one of those guys who was a lot less handsome when he smiled. More of a smirk really, showing too many teeth cluttered in his jaw.

"We met last week."

"But you're best friends already." He nodded knowingly. "Do you know where she is? She said she'd come for a coffee with me but I'm sure she said she was in Room 16B. This is 16B, isn't it?"

Excerpted from The Truants by Kate Weinberg. Copyright © 2020 by Kate Weinberg. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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