Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Book Review: Dear Committee Members

Dear Committee Members
Julie Schumacher
Published by The Friday Project
Available in Hardback and ebook
Paperback is forthcoming

Dear Reader

This letter recommends Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members a very funny and insightful look into the world of academia told in letters.

But first things first – lets talk about the front cover. I know you’re not meant to judge a book by its cover (or you might have your teacher breathing down your neck) but I’m afraid you will with Dear Committee Members. As you can see from the enclosed picture this one is very striking.

Jason Fitger is an English academic, who we learn through the numerous letters of recommendations he writes for past and present students, is disgruntled by the politics of the education system and with the whole process of writing recommendation letters. However, this doesn’t stop him from writing a recommendation for anyone that knocks on his office door. The frustrations he has with his teaching, writing and love life come out in his letters and at times his opinions get him in trouble.

Schumacher explores the intimacy of letter writing and the way we share and let down our guard more than we would if it was a face to face. Fitger’s letters are full of frustrations on the limited funding for the English department, and at times his words verge on the passive aggressive but his letters also full of passion for his department plus the odd bit of gossip about his colleagues. Fitger is a man who can’t help but write down and broadcast his true feelings on the page. Dear Committee Members reminded me of lecturers when I was at university and the way they used to moan about the facilities and other members of staff.

Through the passive aggressive letters, a narrative starts to form with Fitger advocating a student, Darren Bowles, a brilliant writer who has become a victim of the writing program’s funding being cut. He needs money and time to finish off his novel which Fitger thinks will be a game changer.

Dear Committee Members reminded me of The Wonder Boys, which is also a book about a disillusioned lecturer who thinks the ‘system’ is against him. Dear Committee Members is just as funny, cringe-worthy and insightful as The Wonder Boys.

Fitger doesn’t know when to keep his mouth, which is good for the reader. This book will have you laughing out loud and also rolling your eyes within a couple of pages.

This book is available from your favourite online or offline bookshops.

I hope to hear from you soon,


P.P.S Thank you to the Friday Project for sending me a copy

1 comment:

Dan Purdue said...

This sounds interesting, Jessica. Ordinarily, I wouldn't be particularly interested in a novel told in the form of letters, but having read Nicola Barker's excellent "Burley Cross Postbox Theft", I am more convinced by the comic potential of constructing a book that way. Another one for the reading list!