As someone with some experience in this area, I can assure you it’s not the professor. It’s THOMAS PYNCHON. Or, more generally, it’s big complicated novels. I think the key thing is to make sure the discussion isn’t limited to the plot, or the unifying theme, or anything else of which a first-time reader might feel he or she an incomplete grasp halfway through the novel. Easier said than done, of course. As much as I dislike writing about a book before being done with it, I would agree with Mr. Hunsinger that it’s a good way to get people talking. And if that doesn’t work, you can always just get somebody to take their top off.