At least Professor Beller has his teaching assignments.
His classes of wonderful young seedlings keep him occupied. The students require a large amount of literary watering. They're paying substantial sums of money to acquire a worthless degree. Part of Beller's job is keeping away from their fragile minds this realization.
It's a wonderful world. Because he's Mr. Beller, everything at all times must be forever wonderful. He subscribes to a literary philosophy that says everything about today's literary world is wonderful. Sunshine and puppies. Cotton candy and happy memories.
"This book sucks!" a student remarks about a book of poems, Actual Air, by Thomas Beller friend David Berman. "Air! It surely is. The book is all air! There's nothing here."
Professor Beller, looming large and unwieldy in the Tulane classroom, takes a step back, gathering his thoughts in the room's light.
"Er, I should tell you that David is actually a very good friend of mine," Professor Beller reminds the young pupil with a grimaced mock-casual smile. "Believe it or not, David Berman's little book has been highly praised. Most recently by me! Friendships are, you know, crucially important in the writing game."
Professor Beller puts his hands in his pockets and adopts the Gregory Peck nonchalant attitude Beller imagines a university writing professor should take. The little seedlings!
"What do you think of Amanda Hocking selling one million DIY ebooks with no writing degree?" another student queries.
"Who? What?" Thomas Beller asks, blinking.
He's truly curious. Is this Hocking someone he knows from New York City? From an "Open City" party? How could someone sell that many books and have no connection to New York City? It occurs to Professor Beller they're drifting into prohibited territory.
"Let's turn to page 879 of the DFW masterpiece," he tells them, scrambling furiously through the unwieldy book's unwieldy pages.