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October 15, 1995|CHARLES SOLOMON

ALMA MATER: A College Homecoming by P.F. Kluge (Addison Wesley: $12, 258 pp.). The author of "Danny and the Cruisers" offers an affectionate yet sardonic account of an academic year at Kenyon College in Ohio. Kluge graduated from this small, expensive, private liberal arts school and teaches there periodically. As the year progresses, he becomes aware of the divisions within the faculty, administration and alumni over whether Kenyon should remain a conservative WASP enclave or expand into multiculturalism. He mourns the grade inflation that allows students to slide through school, rarely receiving anything below a B-minus, and compares reading his students' "slapdash, half-assed, dead-on-arrival" essays to "taking out my eyeballs and rolling them in a plate of breadcrumbs."

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