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Christopher Sarton   -   First Year Teacher


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First Year Teacher
by Christopher Sarton

UK price: £14.49    US price: $16.95
Format: Paperback
Size : 6 x 9
Pages: 250
ISBN: 0-595-31267-5
Published: Mar-2004


Other Formats:  Hard Cover : $26.95  £22.99 

Anyone ever engaged in teaching, whether as student or teacher, will find this book fascinating. Also, the erudite input of knowledge and argument, from black holes to reincarnation, will keep the reader turning the pages of this fascinating account by a British first-year teacher in the ’sixties, who tells of how he overcame the underhand resistance of ‘redneck’ teachers and wins the favour of faculty and students at an independent secondary school in rural America.

Book Description
Clive Monroe is English, but takes up his first teaching position at an independent secondary school in the USA. The school is co-educational, mixed day and boarding, and about to undergo a transition mandated by its Board of Trustees, who have appointed a new headmaster for this purpose. At the same time the school is affected by the general “student revolutionism” of the late ’sixties. The way the new British teacher, shouldered with unexpected responsibilities, faces up to these and other crises creates a compelling dramatic interest. His new challenges when he finds himself in charge of the boys’ dormitory and later Head of History are bedevilled by the hostility of the ‘Redneck’ element, certain long-term conservative teachers. But the levelheaded way in which he faces problems, leads a school expedition to the Kaieteur Falls in Guyana, and establishes and supervises a student club (‘The Theosophists’) for discussing philosophy in general and the religions of the world, will win the reader to his side.

About the author

Christopher Sarton was educated in England and then served twenty years in the British army, thereafter graduating from an English university prior to teaching twenty-one years in American college preparation schools.  Now retired, he lives in the Scottish Highlands. His hobbies are travelling, sailing, and, latterly, writing semi-autobiographical novels.



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Also by Christopher Sarton:

Baptism in Siberia         
A Novel
by Christopher Sarton   

UK Price £12.99     $14.95 in US
Format: Paperback
Size: 6 x 9
Pages: 248
ISBN: 0-595-25085-8
Publication Date: Oct-2002

A powerful, thought-provoking journey toward spiritual truth, Sarton's novel is a unique exploration of several major religions of the world.

Books by Christopher Sarton

Baptism in Siberia, 2002, Writers Club Press, ISBN: 0-595-250858 (pbk) 
0-595-650309 (Hardback)

The Terrorist Hunter, 2002, Scotforth Books, ISBN: l-904244-216 (Hardback)

The First Year Teacher, 2004, iUniverse Inc, ISBN: 0-595-312675 (pbk)
0-595-767044 (Hardback)

For readers who like their private journeys with authors to provide a variety of vicarious new experiences, plus unexpected explorations of ideas that seriously need to be examined, these books by Christopher Sarton should not be missed.

Each of his multi-layered novels presents the reader with a wide range of seemingly disparate themes, which in his narratives lock together like the pieces of a completed jigsaw. Their ranges include: lethal violence and religious philosophy; somewhat raunchy sex, and travel in remote regions; yacht sailing, and classroom teaching. The list could go on and on.

To encompass such variety while maintaining continuity of narration, the novels are necessarily fast-paced, and thus are possibly better read in short bursts. But if the reader prefers to curl up for some time with a good book he should be ready, with these novels, for constant and adroit gear changing in his perceptivity. And, whether he is a gear-shifter or a short-burster, he will find that these books will repay re­reading -~ for their pace and variety are likely to leave some things to be discovered in later readings. The re-reading indeed will be no hardship, for the tone of the writing has been described as captivating.

Beyond being written in the first person, these novels seem at first to have nothing in common. The narrators themselves are markedly different: one is anxious and rather diffident (in Hunter), another is bold and assertive (in Teacher) and the other is socially so unacceptable that his name never gets revealed (in Baptism). Moreover, the themes and venues of the narratives differ. One, which also includes yachting, is a travelogue featuring first the USA, then China, Mongolia, and Siberia (Baptism). One is an army story, set in the Malayan jungle (Hunter); the other is a school story in the USA, with a side trip to Guyana (Teacher).

But in fact the books share important characteristics. Like most novels, they recount personal interactions and responses of their characters to events. Nothing especially unusual in any of this, of course. It is the stuff of novels.

However, one characteristic, which these novels share, must surely be unique to them: as a periodically recurring theme they feature well-informed discussions of the world’s major religions. This is done incidentally and colloquially, without advocacy or moralising. No one ever claims final certainty. All are intent on seeking knowledge through researching and reflecting, not by taking instruction. Whichever character momentarily leads the hunt does so only like a questing hound, with the rest intent on taking the lead when they catch the scent. Indeed, no specific leading is done – only a gently guided exploration that is the real theme of these novels. Occasionally a narrator does a lot of thinking, but then he shares it only with the reader.

Throughout all three books this exploration is dovetailed into the context of the activities and events and struggles with which the narratives are mainly concerned. Some readers may wish indeed to skip the religious bits – but doing so would be like eating the icing and marzipan while leaving the rest of the cake.

This presentation of religious concepts has a more logical sequence if the books are read in a particular order: a mainly intellectual and scientific approach characterises Teacher, as the title suggests; Baptism, again as the title suggests, is the most overtly religious of these books (this being offset by a raunchiness that is not present in the others); Hunter provides some element of review, besides featuring additional examination of Buddhism, Islam, and the Christian mystics. However, even for readers interested in the religion angle, it is not crucial for the books to be read in this order. A check on publication dates will show that the author did not write them in the sequence recommended here.

Readers more interested in accompanying the author on a series of vicarious experiences may have concern for the historical chronology. Regarding this, the earliest setting is that of Hunter, the ending of which coincides with the coming of Elizabeth II to the throne. Teacher is set in the time of the Vietnam war and student revolutionism. And Baptism, less reflective than the others of historical background, depicts experiences around the early 1990s.

Wide ranging within the last half century, and also regarding places, experiences, themes, and characters, these novels have a lucid style that makes them seem condensed. But this means only that they will yield more on further reading, as the experiences recounted are multi-faceted. And as for the expositions of religion, these are about a topic that, as the author says, is either foolishness, by turns comforting and inflammatory or else, since it concerns the ineffable and eternal, infinitely more important than anything else. There is just no in-between.