"This high-spirited, richly imagined, and brave novel is a delight to read... Smart and hilarious."
Joyous, fast and funny, Scott Johnston’s Campusland is a satiric howl at today’s elite educational institutionsfrom safe spaces to tribal infighting to the sheer sanctimony. A wickedly delightful novel that may remind you of Tom Wolfe and David Lodge.
Her room sucks. Her closet isn’t big enough for two weeks’-worth of outfits, much less her new Rag & Bone for fall. And there’s nothing worth posting. Cruel. To Lulu HarrisIt Girl-in-the-Makingher first year at the ultra-competitive Ivy-like Devon University is a dreary impediment. If she’s fabulous and no one sees it, what’s the point?
To Eph Russell, who looks and sounds like an avatar of privilege (shh!–he’s anything but) Devon is heaven. All day to think and read and linger over a Welsh rarebit at The Faculty Club, not to mention teach English 240 where he gets to discuss all his 19th Century favorites, like Mark Twain. If Eph could just get tenure, he could stay forever, but there are landmines everywhere.
In his seventh year at Devon, Red Wheeler is the alpha dog on top of Devon’s progressive hierarchy, the most woke guy on campus. But when his position is challenged, Red is forced to take measures.
Before first term is halfway finished, Lulu bungles her social cache with her clubbable upperclass peers, and is forced to reinvent herself. Shedding her designer clothes, she puts on flannel and a brand-new persona: campus victim. For Lulu to claw her way back to the top, she’ll build a pyre and roast anyone in her way.
Presiding over this ferment is Milton Strauss, Devon’s feckless president, who spends his days managing perpetually aggrieved students, scheming administrators, jealous professors, billionaire donors, and bumptious frat boys. He just can’t say yes fast enough. And what to do with Martika Malik-Adams? Isn’t her giant salary as vice-president of Diversity & Inclusion enough?
All paths converge as privileged, marginalized, and radical students form identity alliances, sacrifice education for outrage, and push varied agendas of political correctness that drags every free thought of higher learning into the lower depths of an entitled underclass.
Campusland is a riotous, subversive and fresh read.
|Publisher:||St. Martin''s Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
SCOTT JOHNSTON grew up in Manhattan and graduated from college in the 1980s. From there, Wall Street (Salomon Brothers of Liar's Poker fame) and a stint in Hong Kong. On the side, he opened a couple of nightclubs in New York City and wrote popular books on beer drinking and golf betting games. More recently, Johnston shifted gears and co-founded two tech startups. He lives in Westchester with his wife and three children.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This political satire on the changing college culture shows the competitive atmosphere and warring factions at an prestigious Ivy League college. Eph Russell, a professor from Alabama, seems to be a perfect fit until he becomes a target of the campus monarchists and a devious woman. I found him to be impossibly naive. The characters were so exaggerated that they weren't relatable. The story was complex and thought provoking. I felt that Devon University is where education is sacrificed to advance ambitions. Lulu is the perfect example. Scott Johnston has addressed current issues head on with wit and humor. I received a copy of this book which I voluntarily read and reviewed. My comments are my honest opinion.
Man, I am not even sure how to rate this book. It started out funny, then started getting weirder and weirder by the page progressions. I know Campusland is supposed to be satirical, however, it felt real, like I could see it happening today and have seen it happen living 50 miles away from Cal- Berkley. That touched a nerve. The writing was engaging, maybe too engaging! I wanted to reach through the book and throttle so many people. This is what makes Scott Johnston a good writer. Lulu's obsession with social media, her need to be accepted by the likes, the comments, the view count of her posts showed a sadness, I felt bad for her. I wanted to reach out and be her friend if only to add depth to her sorry life. However, her #crawlpeace shenanigans was the weirdest of all the causes and I had a hard time getting past it. but plug along I did. I am glad I did if not only to see what happens next but also to finish the book and hope that there was some good to come out of it for Professor Harris. I guess this book resonated with me because it made me think deeply, it just was how I see what is dangerous in the "virtues" of the social justice warrior students of the day, How does the college administration decide which group is more deserving of more money, how do teachers teach their curriculum without having any given student in the class taking offense and causing problems for the teachers? How do we make it fair for all sides of the agenda's to "feel safe" if we kowtow to the loudest of the student body population and not all of the student population? These are very hard topics to talk about sometimes, if only because someone will get upset and protest the outcomes even if the subject matter is one of high importance. I feel for the adults that are trying to do their best to teach subjects, be good role models and also navigate through the murky waters of the social justices issues of the day at the same time as teach the history to the era of when it happened and not what we see with our modern eyes. Satire at it's best. Tough issues. Campusland is that book. Well done, Scott! I received an advance copy from Netgalley in lieu of my honest review, which this is.
I'm such a sucker for books set in schools--this one at Devon University. I'm a sucker for a good satire and as a retired English teacher, I'm also a sucker for references to classic literature--as in this novel when Huck Finn is challenged as being racist with no "content warning" (even as it's taught in a nineteenth century English class)! I laughed so hard while reading this brilliant novel; nothing is sacrosanct here! Johnston examines the elite white socialites, trigger warnings, gender identity issues, personal pronouns, social media, secret societies, fraternities, racial inequality, sexual assault, Title IX, and literally everything relevant to today. The characters--like protagonist Eph and student Lulu--are funny and quirky while still remaining realistic without being stereotypes. I simply loved this novel as it calls attention to so many issues that plague our politically correct tendencies and reminds us to sometimes take a step back and just laugh for a change! Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!
Oh, wow! What a breath of fresh air! Not since a Mel Brooks movie have we attempted to laugh at ourselves in order to feel better. Scott Johnston must have made a list of all the recent U.S. news that needed to chill, then wrote this book to address every single one of them. As I read, numerous bits of news jumped up in my memory and yes, it’s something that we need to chill and snicker about today. For example, the rich little college gentleman who was on a “hunger strike” (oh, please), the students clicking their fingers because clapping may upset someone (oops, forgot to say “trigger warning”), the image of the young lady screaming to the skies in sheer agonizing pain (I did this when I gave birth ;), the knee-jerk reactions of college campuses to throw money at issues, then they quietly slink away. He even jabs at himself on the cover of his book, social media-style. I noticed that a minimal few readers were deeply offended by the attempt at humor Mr. Johnston offers here. My advice to you: read this again in five years. Maybe by then, you’ll get it. Also, after reading the author’s note, I plan to read “Unwanted Advances” by Laura Kipnis. This is one area of the book that Scott makes clear, he’s somewhat joking about the matter but it’s far from funny. A nice refreshing change whose time is due, from an author who is eloquent and well educated, I only hope others will be as brave as Scott Johnston was and display some past events for what they are. (I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks so much to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for making it available.)
I was eager to read Campusland after reading the blurb. I thought that it was going to be a comedy mixed with today’s social issues. For the most part, that is what I got. But there were certain parts of Campusland where I felt the author was trying too hard. And it was those parts of the book that made it fall short for me. Campusland is the story of Devon University and the year of upheavals that it endures. Caught in the middle of everything is Eph Russell, an English professor trying to make tenure. He is also trying to make it through the year. Lulu is a first-year who has aspirations to become an Instagram star and a socialite. Instead, she is attending Devon University and hating it. Red, in his seventh year at Devon, is the top social activist on campus. His activities have been limited to small protests. When he is threatened, Red takes drastic measures, which affect Eph and Lulu in ways that they can’t imagine. What will happen when all paths collide? What will happen? Like I mentioned above, I was excited to read Campusland. I enjoy reading about social issues that are affecting today’s youths (holy crap, I sound so old here!!). The events that happen at Devon University have been ripped, for the most part, from the headlines. As I got into the book, though, I started to feel a disconnect from Campusland. I did feel sorry for Eph. He was the real victim in this book. He got no say to defend himself from every accusation that was brought against him. Instead, there was an internal investigation. The internal investigation was biased because the woman running it was hell-bent on proving him guilty. I couldn’t stand Lulu. From the moment she appeared in the book, I disliked her. She was a self-centered, spoiled brat with kleptomaniac tendencies. Everything she did was to promote her brand, which disgusted me later on in the book. I also didn’t like Red. At first, he came across as one of those stoner activists. But as the book went on, he became more and more devious. His activism became almost militant. I was waiting with bated breath to see if he would leave the book. I did enjoy seeing what a glimpse into what college is like today. When I was in college, there was nothing like the groups that were shown. Or if there was, they stayed well underground and out of the spotlight. I was relieved when I finished Campusland. I thought that the author tried too hard to form the characters into stereotypes. While there was humor in the book, the humor felt forced. I will say that the ending of Campusland was interesting. But I didn’t think that the ending was appropriate. I can’t get into it but what Lulu and Red ended up going on to do didn’t make me happy.
College has changed a lot since I graduated. Johnston has written a genuinely funny novel about a university in this time of political correctness and political conflict. Devon University is a hotbed of all things college. There are sharply written characters representing all of the worst impulses of this environment and a topical Me-too incident that pulls it all together. Eph, a professor hoping for tenure, and Lulu, a young woman who wants to be popular and well known, are on a collision course - you will see the train wreck coming- but there are a few surprises. Red, who leads the agitators and Milton, the President of the University sort of deserve one another. So much about this will have you either nodding in recognition or shaking your head and tut-tutting but it will also make you laugh. Thanks to the publisher for the ARC. Highly entertaining.