Through the recommendation letters written he writes for students, a creative writing professor at a small university uses the platform to vent about life in academia. The letters get funnier and more absurd as his frustrations grow. This is a perfect read for anyone who has ever tried to navigate academic bureaucracy.
This post may include affiliate links. That means if you click and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Please see Disclosures for more information.
This smart, funny, and absurd epistolary novel is perfect for academics (or lapsed academics). Told solely through the letters of recommendation written by a creative writing professor at a small liberal arts university, anyone who has spent any time in a university will recognize the frustrations of the institution. Professor Fitger uses these letters to both exercise his creative writing chops (relentlessly called on for this very task, rather than actual creative writing) and to vent his frustrations with the bureaucracy and injustices of academia. You’ll laugh along and sympathize with Fitger if you’re currently in higher education, or if you’ve left it, you might just be glad you did.
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 novel 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.