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An unfinished novel, a stolen car, a murdered pet, an unstable student, a fed-up wife, a pregnant lover--it's safe to say that Grady Tripp has a number of issues to deal with this weekend. Grady is a 50-ish English professor who hasn't had a thing published in years--not since he wrote his award-winning great American novel seven years ago. It's hardly surprising, then, that his college's annual literary festival fills the former wonder boy with more than his usual quota of self-doubt and anxiety. This festival weekend, however, proves even worse than he could have imagined as he finds himself reeling from one misadventure to another in the company of a new wonder boy, James Leer. He's Grady's most gifted writing student. He's also a fluent liar whose peculiar behavior launches the professor on a picaresque odyssey of self-discovery.