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Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost: A Memoir of Hampshire College in the Twilight of the '80s

3.29  ·  Rating Details ·  129 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
A strange and salacious memoir of life at the ultimate hippie college during the height of Reaganomics

Opening its doors in 1970, Hampshire College was once known as a land of eternal partying, where countercultures thrived and jocks were nowhere to be found. Self- proclaimed nerd Richard Rushfield knew this progressive Massachusetts campus was the place for him, offering
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 29th 2009 by Gotham (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Aug 28, 2009 karen rated it really liked it
i am a moron. when i first signed up to win this from i thought "yay - it will have stories of donna tartt and tales about what a douche bret easton ellis is/was", because my mind equated the entire state of new hampshire, including bennington, with hampshire college. and i am a new england girl, i even knew people (performance artists, naturally) who went to hampshire. so once my brain righted itself, i settled in to enjoy the book anyway. hampshire is an admirable ...more
Nov 07, 2009 bettyx1138 rated it it was amazing
I was around for much of what went on in this entertaining and endearing book ("Meg".)

Before reading it, I read in the promo blurb that the Hampshire student body hated the Dicks and friends. I was like, really? Its possible. No wait, I think I knew that at the time. Did I? No, that can't be true. I was scared to read it, paranoid that Rich would write something embarrassing about me.

Hampshire was comprised mostly of smart, dynamic, diligent students whose brains and accomplishments are absolu
Nov 01, 2011 Lennie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In 1986, Richard Rushfield left his hometown of Los Angeles and traveled to Massachusetts so that he could begin his freshman year at Hampshire, a liberal arts college. At first he felt lost being thousands of miles away from home but then he slowly began to adapt to this New England campus and eventually he started to hang out with a group of students who had a reputation for being misfits. Young, away at college and on their own for the first time, Richard and his friends skipped class, got ...more
Mar 25, 2010 Elyssa rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
I chose to read this book because I considered applying to Hampshire College, but instead went to Hampshire's public and West Coast equivalent, Evergreen in Olympia, WA. I started college during the same year as this author and was interested to read his perspective on going to a liberal and non-traditional college in the 80s.

Clearly Rushfield chose Hampshire for the wrong reasons because he had a hard time finding his niche. As he figured out a way to acclimate to the environment, he chose to
Mark Feltskog
Dec 08, 2011 Mark Feltskog rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Mark by: A fellow Hampshire alumnus
Rarely do I fail to finish a book. However, I must say that this book is one for which I was happy to make an exception. The narrative, which is in fact essentially fiction, conforms to Dorothy Parker's dictum (and I paraphrase): "This is not a book to be set aside lightly; it should be thrown with great force." When I was a student at Hampshire, I avoided people like Richard Rushfield, just as I avoid them now.

And by the way, Hampshire is what you make of it. If you are immature, there is a goo
Sep 09, 2009 Claire rated it it was amazing
I really, really want this book to be a movie, because I want to absorb the hilarious absurdity of Richard's book in more than one medium. This is the anti-college memoir, if you will, where those who suggest wet T-shirt parties are equated with fascists and rapists. It'll make you want to join a frat, even if you're a girl. I know this isn't a very helpful review but you just have to read it to enjoy it, especially if you have a hankering to read about an alternate universe where the put-upon ...more
Oct 16, 2009 Inga rated it it was amazing
Love it! It's a love song for a very crazy and special time and place.
Paxton Lee
I never realized that "The Dicks" were "Hated". It was my experience that most people did not really think they were that important...just a group of people who felt they needed to give themselves an identity with a name, (who does that? Really?) and had to make a name for themselves by offending was very pathetic. You could not help but to feel sad for them....Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is fairest of them all? Heaven forbid the mirror may speak truly, and praise another over ...more
Karen Germain
Jun 01, 2010 Karen Germain rated it did not like it
Richard Rushfield’s memoir, “Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost” details his years spent at Hampshire College during the late 80’s/ early 90’s. I simply did not buy into his story at all. It felt like someone who was recalling a series of events that over the years grew more monumental in his own mind. I also think they are stories that are far more interesting to the people who were actually there, rather than the reader. I felt like I was reading a bunch of inside jokes that I just didn’t get.

Nov 26, 2015 Jim rated it really liked it
Shelves: hippies-60-s
Yes Kids, before facebook and the interweb we would gather & sit around and listen to albums not saying much to each other. At times we would go out and do something silly. I have always been interested in hearing stories about Hampshire which was the polar opposite of the 79 Babson business school that I attended. I glad Richard wrote this.

I enjoyed the book which was a funny and quick read.

perhaps this was what it was like.
Sep 08, 2009 fishie rated it it was ok
I read the first half of the book and ended up just skimming the rest. I didn't really like the style--it seems like the author was trying too hard to be funny. It also just wasn't that interesting to me. Although the structure of Hampshire College was interesting, the story itself wasn't--it seem likes another story about college students wasting their time doing whatever.

The characters themselves were not very memorable and I did not develop a liking towards any of them.
Oct 31, 2009 Iondot rated it did not like it
While there are a few amusing bits, the book suffers from a cloistered and somewhat dull viewpoint. This is a shame because this book could have been interesting.

The memoir recounts the writer's self-absorbed experience attending Hampshire College in the late 1980's. Twenty years later he doesn't seem to have much in the way of perspective on who he was or what was going on around him.

In short, he has nothing interesting to say.

Sep 12, 2009 Robert rated it liked it
Drugs, music, and an utter lack of institutional control or criminal prosecution corrupt a young man at an institution that lays claim to 'higher learning' in only the punniest sense of the word. Nevertheless as a psychological study of obsession, ennui and disassociation, this book will be relevant to many who get to college without a good answer to the question 'Why am I here?'.
Jan 30, 2010 Stefanie rated it liked it
To the author of "Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost: A Memorior of Hampshire College in the Twilight of the 80's": you entered Hampshire 15 years before I did, and yet everything you describe is incredibly familiar, if not of my own experience, then of someone I knew. Holy crap. Something things (or institutions) never change, as much as they try.
James Lowe
Sep 07, 2015 James Lowe rated it it was ok
This ended up in my collection because it was sent to the Gazette years ago for a review. We just did a major book purge at home and I decided I ought to at least leaf through it before getting rid of it.

Though I didn't find much to like about the narrative, I ended up getting sucked in by all the familiar Hampshire settings and folklore. The noisy music and lack of motivation of the Supreme Dicks certainly reminded me of the gang I hung around with during my first year, 12 years after Rushfield
Matthew Gallaway
Nov 20, 2010 Matthew Gallaway rated it it was amazing
This is a great book for anyone who tried to navigate the strange waters of 1980s college life (or for anyone interested in the same), where a kind of surreal 'political correctness' on many liberal-arts campuses reflected the equally surreal rise of Reagan conservatism in the country at large, and led to a kind of nightmarish disassociation of students who didn't really feel comfortable in either camp. (And resulted in some interesting artistic/musical gestures that could loosely be seen as ...more
Patrick Day
Jul 24, 2010 Patrick Day rated it it was amazing
Hampshire College, hidden out in the woods of New England, is the liberal answer to any standard-issue southern Christian college and just as frightening. Imagine a place where forming a fraternity is actually considered a subversive act. I read Richard Rushfield's memoir of this college in the last half of the 1980s with equal parts humor and horror. Like some kind of gleeful imp, Rushfield set out to push the boundaries of the college's "It's all good" philosophy and in so doing, exposes them ...more
Dec 04, 2009 Pearl rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 30, 2011 Jenn rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I really thought I had reviewed this, but apparently not. I liked this book because I went to Hampshire College - which is a flimsy reason to like something, but there it is. I recognized and appreciated the mood & setting, it made me both homesick for the place and homesick for a time in my life. I would have to say that this is probably not the best written memoir I've ever read (pacing is awful) and I'm not sure that it would make sense if you don't understand Hampshire - but since I do, ...more
Nov 30, 2011 Jenny marked it as partially-read
Recommended to Jenny by: Price Armstrong
Shelves: memoir-biography
Read 84 pages and stopped. Rare for me, but I was just hating it: I kept thinking "it wasn't like that!" although maybe it was when he was there. I hope that sometime between page 84 and the end of the book, the author transforms from clueless slacker to creative and responsible human being (redemption! narrative arc!), but I was not compelled to find out for myself. Maybe I'll come back to it another time, but most likely not; I had my own experience at Hampshire, and there are too many ...more
Apr 07, 2010 Dave rated it liked it
Extremely entertaining but not exactly transcendent. Definitely a good read for anyone who attended a small liberal arts college and lived to tell the tale. While the Hampshire experience seems a little more extreme (and implausible) than my own as presented in this book, I definitely could relate to the various factions of students who claimed open-mindedness but frequently clashed with each other.

Jen Hartley
I wanted to read this because one of my friends is in the book, so it did help me understand a bit where she was coming from. Overall, though, I wasn't crazy about the book. It did capture a certain tone/spirit that I know all too well, and brought up angst-ridden memories of my teens and twenties that I didn't especially want brought up. Maybe someone who experienced less angst in the '80s might enjoy this book more.
Nov 16, 2011 Jim rated it it was amazing
the Mishima of Melancholy, Rushfield has cultivated a wonderfully insulting comedy of manners under the leaden skies of Northhampton Oblast during the addled eighties. This unbildungsroman really brought me back, unwillingly, to a time when mind could fool the body that it was having fun. I can't wait for the uplifting sequel, Guerrilla Acapella.
Jan 12, 2010 Jane rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
Loaned to me by a neighbor so I read it. Geez. The blurbs on the jacket say it is supposed to be funny but I found it not so funny at all. Kind of painful to read about the authors first years of college. I guess we all did our own version of being lost in those late adolescent years but crikey.
Dec 24, 2009 Julie rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the book about a guy who started college the same year I did: 1986. While liberal, make-up-your-own-education Hampshire College is very different from the traditional, state school that I went to, he captures the "feeling" of that era very well. It made me nostalgic for some of the funnest years of my life.
Aug 19, 2009 Casey rated it it was ok
This would have probably gotten 3 stars if I were a guy - could've related a bit more. That being said, the music references and humour definitely made it an entertaining read. The demographic would definitely be the 30+ up crowd.
Sarah Emily
Jan 06, 2010 Sarah Emily rated it liked it
If you attended Hampshire or spent any quality time there, you need to read this book. Otherwise, skip the damn thing. It reads a little bit like a justification of being a spoiled asshole, but if you know Hampshire at all, this spoiled asshole is a strangely fond memory.
Sep 04, 2011 Grizel rated it really liked it
This book has its long stretches, but I gave it points for honesty and subject matter. Rushfield is honest about being a slacker who chose Hampshire because it made no onerous academic demands.His experience there sounds like Alan Bloom's worst nightmare.
Jun 29, 2011 Pam rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, culture
Vanity Fair contributing editor Richard Rushfield describes his meanderings through the maze of college life in the mid to late 1980's.
Went to Hampshire, loved it, knew some of these people. Had furniture like the couch on the cover.


It's readable.
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