Book Review: Slipsliding by the Bay by Barbara McDonald


Rating:  3.75/5 Bookworms

Short and Sweet Summary: On the brink of a revolution Lakeside College is struggling to find the balance between their traditional roots and the new liberal direction the students are going.

Genre: Fiction – Satire

My Review:

Gudewill exploded on campus as brilliant as the Fourth of July fireworks at Crissy Field, just as he had intended.

This book is about a college, Lakeside College to be exact, that is in the middle of the seventies revolution. A banker, Gudewill, has just been named the new president of the college and the faculty, administration, and students have mixed reactions about this choice. In a time when everyone is pushing the boundaries, Lakeside is struggling to find a balance between sticking to their religious roots and moving into the new decade.

“The only way we can protect ourselves from further harm is by unionization. Our salaries and our job security will be protected. There will be a grievance procedure. Lakeside has become impersonal and arbitrary. Decisions are made by a board of overseers with little advice from the faculty. The college is a factory with production quotas and efficiency charts.”

With the students pushing for more of a say, the professors feel like they’re being edged out and that they’re losing their voice so they decide that unionizing is their best route. It’s interesting to see the power struggle between the students and administration because you get a taste of what it was like when all of these “radical” changes were happening in the country. We see something I think that is fairly common and that’s the new generation being more open to change and the older generation wanting things to stay the same. The administration wants to stick to their traditional religious roots while the students are pushing for a freer more liberal college. It’s the first time the students realize that they can have a say in their education and, something super relevant to today, they realize the power of protesting.

“We can’t stay locked in the past. That’s one of the temptations of the ivory tower, to fall into the trap of complacency.”

This book was totally outside of my comfort zone but I think that as a blogger and bibliophile it’s my job to challenge myself. While there were times where I struggled getting through it but I’m so happy that I pushed myself and it really ended up surprising me. Push yourself to develop as a reader and broaden your horizons and you may just surprise yourself.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Perched on the edge of San Francisco, Lakeside College is experiencing an identity crisis. John Gudewill is recruited as president to save the college from possible closure–but he is flummoxed at every turn. The faculty, led by secretive English professor Eliot Blanc, is determined to unionize. The alumni want Lakeside to return to its former status as a women-only college. Meanwhile, Sister Magdalena, the college’s infamous artist, is waging war against corporate America through her art, and the students are engaging in their own warfare through sit-ins and protests. With the college besieged on all sides, what is its new president to do? A hilarious spoof of academic intrigue, Slipsliding by the Bay mirrors the societal turmoil and follies of the seventies.


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Get to know Barbara McDonald:Barbara-McDonald-headshotcredit-Patricia-Yium-2-400x400

A lifelong writer, Barbara McDonald has had poetry published in anthologies and magazines and spent several summers at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, where she worked on Slipsliding by the Bay. She held various positions at Lone Mountain College in San Francisco before it closed: adjunct faculty, director of institutional service, editor and writer, and alumni director. After being a stringer for local papers and managing editor of a magazine, she worked at Dominican University as director of facilities. North American Review commissioned her to write an article on Lone Mountain, its progression and demise. She currently teaches Critical Thinking at the Marin County Jail.

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