In 2014, after a brief orientation course and a few fingerprinting sessions, Nicholson Baker became an on-call substitute teacher in a Maine public school district. He awoke to the dispatcher's five-forty a.m. phone call and headed to one of several nearby schools; when he got there, he did his best to follow lesson plans and help his students get something done. What emerges from Baker's experience is a complex, often touching deconstruction of public schooling in America: children swamped with overdue assignments, overwhelmed by the marvels and distractions of social media and educational technology, and staff who weary themselves trying to teach in step with an often outmoded or overly ambitious standard curriculum. In Baker's hands, the inner life of the classroom is examined anew as the author and his pupils struggle to find ways to get through the day. Baker is one of the most inventive and remarkable writers of our time, and Substitute, filled with humor, honesty, and empathy, may be his most impressive work of nonfiction yet.
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"Tom Zingarelli sounds like he's having as much fun narrating this audiobook as the author must have had in writing about his 28-day experience as a substitute teacher in a Maine public school district. Professional teachers and administrators may quibble with the audiobook's conceit, but Baker captures the experiences and feelings of students and teachers as they navigate a school day. Zingarelli has a voice and style that don't fit neatly into categories. His rich, deep, slightly fuzzy voice dips and soars, quickens and slows, and renders heartfelt character voices that ring true. He also grabs Baker's style--sarcastic, realistic, sympathetic--and translates it for the spoken word. It's a fun book and worth a listen. R.I.G. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine"
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