Dear Committee Members

Dear Committee Members

| Comments

Dear Committee Members is an ode to the romantic notion of what it’s like to be an English professor at a small liberal arts college—and the realities. 

Each chapter is a written missive that recommends, cajoles, pleads and dismisses, students, colleagues, administrative staff and literary agents.  All are crafted by a beleaguered, articulate and witty misanthrope, Professor Jason Fitger.

Working from a renovation-hobbled office that offers fresh insults each day (worked in as asides in the letters), Fitger's continues his quixotic quest to teach and write.  But alas, he is often pushing water up hill.  For example, his diatribe on plagiarism: 

January 7, 2010
Sellebritta Online
C.R. Young, Communications Coordinator

Dear C.R. Young,

Ms. Tara Tappani knocked at my office door this morning and, with the air of a woman wearing diamonds and furs, entered the icy enclosure in which I work, perched at the edge of my red vinyl chair, and urged me to respond to your second e-mail request… I demurred. Pressed, I reminded Ms. Tappani that, a year ago, I gave her a well-deserved F in my Intermediate Fiction class. It always startles anew…to realize that the student cheater is amazed at my powers of discernment. The Woolf copyist, wide-eyed with distress and admiration, told me she didn’t think I would catch her because Woolf, a European writer no longer among us, was “so obscure.”
— Dear Committee Members

P.G. Wodehouse would be proud.  There is a thin narrative that threads the book.  But the joy is in reading each letter, parsing the recipient and the endless variety of sign offs.  I would be remiss if I did not mention that the book has a somber underpinning that may catch the reader off guard in the end.  But, therein lies Schumacher's skill. 

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.  Ms. Schumacher lives in St. Paul and is a faculty member in the Creative Writing Program and the Department of English at the University of Minnesota--where we assume she writes many recommendation letters. 

About Lori Theisen

Lori Theisen is a co-founder and managing editor of The Literary Cafe. A journalism major before she got swept up into the world of corporate marketing, she always wanted to indulge her passion of books, culture and food.