Monday, September 1, 2014

"Dear Committee Members"

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 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.

Schumacher applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Dear Committee Members, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Should Ms. Temple matriculate at Torreford State under these conditions, I shall wish her well and be the first to welcome her to “the writing life,” which, despite its horrors, is possibly one of the few sorts of lives worth living at all.

Jay Fitger
Professor, Creative Writing and English – Payne
My jaded letter-of-recommendation writer, Professor Jay Fitger, exhibits his most admirable and despicable traits in this particular letter – on page 69 of Dear Committee Members – which he submits on behalf of an undergraduate, Iris Temple, who is applying for MFA programs in Creative Writing.

Never content to limit himself to the attributes of the people he recommends, Fitger lashes out as he sees fit. He spends very little time describing Iris Temple’s qualifications, instead summarizing his own personal and literary frustrations, and then critiquing the MFA program to which he is submitting his letter.

On the plus side, his critique is based on a demand for equity and funding for Iris Temple, as well as a defense of arts education – provided students don’t go deeply into debt to receive it.

I confess I am terribly fond of Jay Fitger – though I would not ask him to write me a recommendation.
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--Marshal Zeringue