Book review from The Movie Snob
Blue Angel, by Francine Prose (2000). I read this novel based on a recommendation I saw in Commentary magazine, and I thought it was a pretty good book. The protagonist is Ted Swenson, a formerly successful novelist who has settled into a placid existence as a creative-writing professor at a small, private college in Vermont. He is a pitiful creature, somehow both completely self-absorbed and yet an utter mystery to himself. He has a lovely wife he seems incapable of appreciating and a sullen daughter who has gone off to college elsewhere. His world is suddenly upended when one of his students, a punked-out girl named Angela Argo, unexpectedly shows a wild talent for writing — and a not entirely scholastic interest in Swenson himself. As I said, I enjoyed this book, although Swenson is such a clod that it is hard to believe he could have ever written the critically acclaimed novels that supposedly made his reputation. Also, the book makes me want to see the old Marlene Dietrich movie The Blue Angel, which is frequently mentioned in the story.