Tessa McWatt's Higher Ed (2015)

Higher Ed: A Novel - Tessa McWatt

The story of how the cover for Higher Ed evolved provides readers with clues as to the novel's preoccupation with perspective; from a close-up of a clown fish to a human hand, Tessa McWatt's story covers the gamut.


It begins with a cast of characters, five primary (the administrator, the film professor, the law student, the civil servant, and the waitress) and a couple dozen supporting characters.


"This way of seeing things is like being the projector itself, like life has a movie and she’s showing it." This is Francine's observation (the administrator).


But Robin (the film professor) reminds readers that any given scene contains more detail than a casual passer-by might recognize:


"Kurosawa would use the noise and the pending rain. He would begin this scene with a long, wide-angled exposition—water, concrete, a lid of clouds—and then move to the contracted theatrical space to focus on the unknown woman. Robin looks around him, and, of course, there she is."


As much as the five primary voices are central to the novel, the list includes several supporting characters who are deceased.


The unknown: what is lost is as much of a focus for Tessa McWatt as is the process of discovery and exploration.


Tessa McWatt's Higher Ed might be preoccupied with farewells, but it's the perfect 'hello' for readers who have not yet discovered this writer's work.


This book is discussed in more detail here, on BuriedInPrint.