B. J. Leggett is Professor Emeritus of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he held the title of Distinguished Professor of Humanities. He is the author of numerous studies of modern poetry and criticism, including books on A. E. Housman, Philip Larkin, and Wallace Stevens. Prosperity is his second novel. The first, Playing Out the String, was published by Livingston Press.
B. J. Leggett currently resides in Knoxville. B. J. Leggett was born in 1938.
Reviews - What do customers think about Playing Out the String?
Playing Out the String Feb 17, 2005
The classic mystery novel has indeed run its course throughout the history of literature. Time and time again, readers are presented with the cookie-cutter images of a wrongfully accused protagonist, a sinister and conniving antagonist, a predictable conflict, and redemptive resolution. However, in attempts to prevent the reader from unraveling the mystery after three or four chapters, modern writers seem to elaborate on this age-old equation, in order to throw unexpected curve balls to the reader; keeping them on the edge of their seats and deeply interested until the very last chapter. B.J. Leggett is no exception. B.J. LeggettÂ's Playing Out the String successfully explores the world of academic bureaucracies, complete with the intricate relationships between faculty members, students, and administration of a Southern University. Robert McCabe, a highly esteemed and respected professor of English and film studies is faced with an accusation that could quite possibly ruin his life and career. Obsessed with his innocence, McCabe begins a quest for justice and the truth, constantly testing the strength and validity of his relationships with his wife, colleagues, and ultimately, himself. This trying situation becomes more and more intricate as the novel proceeds, presenting McCabe with endless amounts of red tape and complications, having a drastic impact on his performance as a professor, writer, and husband. Throughout the progression of the text, the novelÂ's main theme seems to focus around manÂ's quest for superiority in life despite the consequences that may occur. Often obsessed with this pursuit, men sometimes fall to the depths of deception and greed in order to gain a leg-up on others who surround them. Playing Out the String contains characters who are constantly on guard against others, in the constant pursuit of superiority and personal gain, behind the faÃ§ade of truth. As a theme, this pursuit is present throughout the entire course of the novel, as Robert McCabe is forced to put all that he stands for on the line in order to prove his true self worth. Highly intricate and imaginative, the plot of the novel is extremely unique and original. LeggettÂ's use of intricate plot twists provides the reader with an extremely complicated plot to wade through. These hurdles within the plot serve to ultimately maintain the suspense and interest level throughout the novel as a whole. The elaborate plot is extremely unpredictable, constantly changing just as the reader begins to attempt to make any further predictions.
Within Playing Out the String, Leggett succeeds in vividly establishing a strong character base. Through vivid character development, the novelÂ's characters are extremely humanistic and complex, straying away from the character stereotypes present in the majority of literary works. Through this characterization, LeggettÂ's characters indeed come alive within the pages, complete with unique idiosyncrasies and details that truly establish each character as an individual. This novel introduces many characters that are extremely likeable in the readerÂ's mind, including Robert McCabe, Charles Redfern, and James Carpenter. In addition, the novel presents other characters that are ultimately sinister, such as Dean Schneider. Still yet, other characters within the novel continue to hang in limbo, balancing between good and bad within the readerÂ's mind. These dynamic characters provide the novel with a sense of realism throughout. Set in and around Knoxville, Tennessee and the campus of Western Appalachian University, the novelÂ's setting greatly advances the storyline throughout. Accurately so, Knoxville is a medium sized city with a small town mentality. Everyone seems to gossip and have a drastic desire to know what scandalous activities are afoot. Similarly, the campus of Western Appalachian seems to harbor the same problem. Gossip runs rampant throughout the student and faculty communities. Sides are chosen within conflicts, based often times on mere hear-say. This setting works hand-in-hand with the character development in providing a realistic tone to the novel, making it ultimately believable. The language scheme within LeggettÂ's work relies mainly on the usage of dialogue between characters. This dialogue establishes the complicated relationships between the characters, thus promoting further character development. Through this dialogue, the characters reveal what aspects and themes are most crucial within the novel as a whole and the corresponding views and feelings that the characters hold in relation to the subjects at hand. In addition, this dialogue makes the novel an extremely quick read, advancing the novel at a brisk pace.
As a whole, B. J. LeggettÂ's novel, Playing Out the String, is an extremely entertaining novel, covering a wide range of topics, occurring every day in the world of academia. The vivid characters and intricate plot line establish a story that is quite out of the ordinary. Through McCabe, the reader learns to question oneÂ's true inner qualities, cherish every movement as it were oneÂ's last, and to always stick to what is known as the truth in life. Playing Out the String is an extremely delightful read and is thus recommended.
Witty Look at Academic Life Oct 22, 2004
This book is so funny. Anyone who has been a college student, faculty member, administrator, staff, or maintenance person will get a chuckle - no, many, many chuckles - from this witty account of a senior professor who is accused of shameful behavior among the stacks in the library. He keeps wishing he had been accused of murder instead because it would have been more interesting and less embarrassing. He starts to believe himself guilty, even though he knows he didn't do it, because the accuser "has no reason to lie." This Kaskaesque-but-funnier book is a fast and delightful read.