One of The Washington Post's 50 Most Notable Works of Fiction in 2018
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune keep hitting beleaguered English professor Jason Fitger right between the eyes in this hilarious and eagerly awaited sequel to the cult classic of anhedonic academe, the Thurber Prize-winning Dear Committee Members. Once more into the breach...
Now is the fall of his discontent, as Jason Fitger, newly appointed chair of the English Department of Payne University, takes arms against a sea of troubles, personal and institutional. His ex-wife is sleeping with the dean who must approve whatever modest initiatives he undertakes. The fearsome department secretary Fran clearly runs the show (when not taking in rescue parrots and dogs) and holds plenty of secrets she's not sharing. The lavishly funded Econ Department keeps siphoning off English's meager resources and has taken aim at its remaining office space. And Fitger's attempt to get a mossbacked and antediluvian Shakespeare scholar to retire backfires spectacularly when the press concludes that the Bard is being kicked to the curricular curb.
Lord, what fools these mortals be! Julie Schumacher proves the point and makes the most of it in this delicious romp of satire.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 7.30(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Julie Schumacher grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, and graduated from Oberlin College and Cornell University. Her first novel, The Body Is Water, was published by Soho Press in 1995 and was an ALA Notable Book of the Year and a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Minnesota Book Award. Her other books include the novel Dear Committee Members, a short story collection, An Explanation for Chaos, and five books for younger readers. She lives in St. Paul and is a faculty member in the Creative Writing Program and the Department of English at the University of Minnesota.
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Excerpted from "The Shakespeare Requirement"
Copyright © 2018 Julie Schumacher.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I wanted to love this story – it had everything that I thought would make THE story for me – smart characters, academic political wrangling, a marriage in trouble, and the foundations of the protagonist’s thought as an English professor being discounted in the curriculum. And, while I found several moments of laugh out loud (in shock) descriptions of machinations for personal and departmental supremacy that made the current white house seem like a kinder garden sand box, the pieces all didn’t quite fit for me. The writing, and the multiple perspectives were intriguing, but there wasn’t a large distinction in voice between them: language was often pompous and tried too hard to impress with just how smart and above it all they were. At many points I felt as if the words were used as smokescreen, trying to confuse and muddle the view to what real intentions were. And while I enjoyed Jason Finger and his voice, finding him alternately utterly befuddled and completely in charge depending on the situation, his presentation and story had funny moments, it just didn’t show, for me, the growth or progress that I hoped for, even as there were many battlefields on which victories could have been gained. Perhaps small moral ones, or departmental, but I just didn’t have it all feeling coherent once the book had ended. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
It has always amused us that we English Department members routinely welcome into our shrinking numbers creative types who then write wonderful books that make us look like fools. Good for us. Schumacher has done a fabulous job. Maybe I missed a little bit more of the quiet pain of trying to be a teacher, student, or staff member (the animals--mammal, reptile, avian--come off fine), but this is a rich caring story of growing...and of not. A joy to read.