[Review] Dear Committee Members written by Julie Schumacher

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Title: Dear Committee Members
Author: Julie Schumacher
Publisher: Doubleday
Date of Publication: 19 August 2014
Number of Pages: 181

Rating: 3 stars

Disclaimer: Copy provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Summary: Jason Fitger is a beleaguered professor of creative writing and literature at Payne University, a small and not very distinguished liberal arts college in the midwest. His department is facing draconian cuts and squalid quarters, while one floor above them the Economics Department is getting lavishly remodeled offices. His once-promising writing career is in the doldrums, as is his romantic life, in part as the result of his unwise use of his private affairs for his novels. His star (he thinks) student can’t catch a break with his brilliant (he thinks) work Accountant in a Bordello, based on Melville’s Bartleby. [Goodreads]

Review: There are many reasons why this novella shouldn’t work and in some ways, it only works because of the length. At 181 pages, the reader can just about suspend their disbelief and irritation at Jason Fitger but add a few more letters and this wouldn’t be the case. I reached the 80% mark and skipped a couple of letters just to get to the end. Interestingly, this is the point when quite a few other readers did the same thing. A narcissistic pessimist character that made me think constantly of work isn’t the kind of book I want to be reading.

Initially, I found the book humourous. In my job, my colleagues and I receive quite a few LOR and each one is time consuming, tedious, boring, pointless and ultimately, thankless. I did laugh out loud (in public) at the letter Fitger wrote for a demanding student he had known for 11 minutes. The student, though fictional, sounded like many of mine. The other section I particularly enjoyed is Fitgar’s loathing of web-form references and the insistence he use email for some recommendations. Who hasn’t been forced to fill in a form that doesn’t provide enough space for a complete sentence? The grammatical checks were also well placed.

Ultimately, this book fell flat for me.

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