Friday, August 22, 2014

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

Dear blog readers,

I am writing to you on behalf of Dear Committee Members, the new novel by Julie Schumacher. Simpsons Ever Marathon). I'm guessing that some of you made the same questionable life choices I made and carry similar grudges, so you'll probably enjoy reading Professor Jason Fitger's letters.
Since you have shown a remarkable tendency toward self-abuse by continuing to visit this awful blog, I can only assume that an epistolary novel comprised of various letters of recommendation from a college creative writing professor might appeal to your masochistic tendencies. It's not like you have anything better to do (and yes, I'm including the Every

If you ever want to know what academic department ranks lowest in the academia hierarchy, look no further than Creative Writing. As a graduate of a small, nerdy, liberal arts university, I would like to point out that my alma mater didn't even offer Creative Writing, so I pursued the comparable majors of English and History (with a hell of a lot of Women's Studies to guarantee that I could enter the working world with no job skills whatsoever). As an English major, I looked down upon the Business majors and Pre-Med losers. As a History major, the Social Sciences were one step above Kinesiology. I take my intellectual integrity does this novel's letter-writing professor. Is he pissed that the Economics Department's building was remodeled with what he assumes are massage chairs and chandeliers while Creative Writing has leaky walls? Yes, yes he is. Let him write a few dozen letters to the administration about this injustice.

Yeah, the building looks cool and
historic, but I'm not kidding, my
office was a converted bathroom.
(Mood-Bridwell Hall,
Southwestern University)
(Now I think I should mention that as the English Department Student Assistant, my work study job for one year, my office was literally a former bathroom. Also, since my job basically consisted of making mimeograph copies for one of the five professors--and she insisted on mimeographs rather than Xerox copies--about twice a semester, I actually performed about 5 hours of work the whole year. Oh, and there were TWO English Department Student Assistants and I was considered "the good one." I think that meant that I figured out the mimeograph machine before March. Anyway, what was I talking about?)

The book. Jason Fitger is pissed off that he's in a dying department that receives no respect from his peers. He's pissed off that his ex-wife also works at the college and she's sharing her opinions about him with the rest of the faculty and administration. Perhaps he shouldn't have drawn on his own experiences for writing material. He's pissed off that his newest novel tanked and his writing career is on the downward slide. Another complaint: the Creative Writing Department Chair is a Sociology professor. The outrage! Jason just wants to enjoy one success this year, and he thinks this hope resides with his star pupil's retelling of Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener. Though he keeps writing letters of recommendation, none of the writing workshops or agents or editors see the book's brilliance. On top of these aggravations, Jason continues to compose an unending number of letters of recommendation for every damn student who crossed into his classroom. Is he honest in his letters? Yes, yes he is.
Julie Schumacher

Jason Fitger is hilarious in his passive aggressive behavior and surprisingly tender and vulnerable. He's a guy who's been kicked in the balls a few too many times, and who brought those metaphorical testicle punts on himself. This short novel is charming and witty, and while the character might be a jerk at times, he comes across as believably human. So, to the lousy former classmates and professors at my alma mater, I implore you to read this book. To those of you nerds who condescended to the inarticulate fools in your classes, this is your book. For people who are their own worst enemies, this book will hit home (and by "home" I mean "testicles").

Seriously, how is Communications even a major? And have you ever heard Philosophy majors whine about their reading load of 20 pages per night? English majors read whole novels! Tom Jones is about 900 pages long and most of those pages are tedious and repetitive. (I was incredibly popular in college.)



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