Friday, 10 April 2015
Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher
review by Maryom
In his position as professor of English and Creative Writing at Payne University, Jason Fitger finds himself, almost constantly, being asked to write letters of recommendation for his students, his fellow professors and authors, as they desperately try to get funding/promotion/work placement/a publishing deal. Through this long series of letters we get to know as much about Fitger himself as the applicants he's supporting. He's disgruntled and opinionated, and not reticent about his opinions of the shortcomings of the university funding system. He's hopeless at computerised forms, instead of ticking the appropriate box he prefers to ramble round about the subject, digressing into rants against his pet hates or his ex-wife, and then send his letters in the good old-fashioned snail-mail way.
Fitger is like an academic version of Reggie Perrin or Victor Meldrew - his career as an author never lived up to its early promise, his marriage failed through his own fault, his English department is underfunded and constantly threatened by further cut-backs (while the Economics and Science faculties seem to have money to spare), and the building seems about to fall down about his ears! He's depressed and demoralised, yet he made me laugh. I've absolutely no idea about the inner workings of an English department, but does that matter? I don't think so (I just hope it isn't TOO true to life!)
Dear Committee Members is a short book - 180 pages - but full of wry humour, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Maryom's review - 4.5 stars
Publisher - The Friday Project
Genre - Adult fiction,