Dear Committee Members

  • by Julie Schumacher
  • Narrated by Robertson Dean
  • 3 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Finally a novel that puts the "pissed" back into "epistolary."
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.
In short, his life is a tale of woe, and the vehicle this droll and inventive audiobook uses to tell that tale is a series of hilarious letters of recommendation that Fitger is endlessly called upon by his students and colleagues to produce, each one of which is a small masterpiece of high dudgeon, low spirits, and passive-aggressive strategies. We recommend Dear Committee Members to you in the strongest possible terms.

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What the Critics Say

"[A] very funny epistolary novel composed of recommendation letters... It's an unusual form for comedy, but it works. Truth is stranger than fiction in this acid satire of the academic doldrums." (Kirkus)
"Schumacher's warm satire of the peculiarities of the Ivory Tower will be recognizable to anyone who has encountered the bureaucracy and internal politics of higher education." (Booklist)
"Dear Committee Members is a brilliant book that, in my head, sits comfortably on my prized shelf of academic novels, right between Lucky Jim and Pictures from an Institution. But it's funnier than either, and more wrenching in the end. The conceit of a novel told in letters of reference is inspired, and it is killingly funny because it's all so killingly true. Truth walks here in the strangest of costumes, and in part because of its guises, we can face it, frown, laugh, cry. I've never lost an afternoon so happily." (Jay Parini, author of The Last Station and The Passages of H.M.)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fantastically Funny!

I found this hysterical. Cynical and sarcastic, by turns dry and over the top. Probably a whole lot more interesting and funny for people who have spent a fair amount of time at a university.
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- Catherine

Offbeat and unusual, but surprisingly evocative

I wondered when I purchased this whether it would feel 'gimmicky' based on the unusual form and hyperbolic tone, but I was surprised by how much actual story there is in this collection of letters. This is quite an accomplishment considering that most of the letters are not written to anyone the main character actually knows. At times I found Jason Fitger infuriating and narcissistic, but a real empathy for his students and for writers he admires slowly emerges through the misanthropy. Using this method of storytelling, Schumacher really does manage to comment on some very topical issues: the abuse of recent graduates and adjunct/non-tenure academics in the current university and college system, the transition from applicant to supplicant for students entering this economy, the strange politics behind what gets published and what doesn't, etc. It might be a short book and a highly stylized method of storytelling, but I liked it and recommend it especially to anyone who who is a writer, an academic, a recent student, or simply one of the millions who have been smacked in the face by the new economy.
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- ricketsj

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-19-2014
  • Publisher: Random House Audio