Check the Insider each Tuesday for your weekly dose of reading recommendation excitement!
This week’s review:
Dear Committee Members: A Novel | Julie Schumacher | 2014, 180 pages | Adult Fiction (Comedy)
Jason R. Fitger, professor of creative writing and English at Payne University, somewhere in the Midwest, claims to have written over 1,300 LORs, or letters of recommendation. He has written them for good students, bad students, teaching assistants, graduates, fellow faculty members, ex-wives, girlfriends and – on one occasion – an extremely determined complete stranger who accosted him in his office and would not leave without the desired letter.
Many years after his promising beginning as an academic with a published novel and a tenured position, his recommendation letters have come to reflect Fitger’s disgruntled personality. They are crammed full with allusions to funding cuts for his department; trying to work in a construction zone while the wealthy economics department upstairs is remodeled; long-running feuds with his ex-wives; a conspiracy between these same ex-wives; departmental politics; non-functional plumbing; and Fitger’s ongoing frustrations with everything from the Faculty Senate to the English Department’s uncommunicative IT assistant who never actually assists the faculty with IT.
It was a brilliant move by author Julie Schumacher to portray the life and longings of Professor Fitger between the sheets of his never-endingly cranked-out letters. The letters themselves are comic gems, sometimes tinged with real desperation, sometimes unexpectedly touching. They never fail to be good reading.
I must give this funny, humane and clever novel my highest recommendation.
Patricia Hutchins, Library Page