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The Dilettantes

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  156 ratings  ·  25 reviews
The Peak: a university student newspaper with a hard-hitting mix of inflammatory editorials, hastily thrown-together comics and reviews, and a news section run the only way self-taught journalists know how—sloppily.

Alex and Tracy are two of The Peak's editors, staring down graduation and struggling to keep the paper relevant to an increasingly indifferent student body. But
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Freehand Books
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Average rating 3.52  · 
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May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Student newspapers are f@#$ing terrible.

Honestly, are they anything more than a breeding ground for smug, supposed intellectuals? Does anyone really care what some 19-year-old stranger thinks about Jay-Z’s new album, or that student attendance has gone down 4% and we should really do something about that?

The comics are painfully unfunny, the editorials are well intentioned but ultimately useless, and the articles are so laser-focused they apply to only a tenth of the readership.

It’s frustrating
Denise Berube
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, first-reads
This book made me laugh, even out loud at times. Having never been involved in or even read a student newspaper, Michael Hingston's thorough descriptions made this part of the campus life easy to comprehend. Beyond the newspaper, the underlying university life was true to form, from Pub Nights, cramming for exams, to wondering where it is all going to take you in the end, it almost made me feel nostalgic.
Ampersand Inc.
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: morgen-s-reads
This is a lot of fun; if we had followed the Breakfast Club into university (assuming John Bender had made it in to university), you would have the writers of The Peak. The observations of university life are frighteningly spot-on and incredibly funny.
Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Also posted at

I had all sorts of preconceived notions going into The Dilettantes. I thought I wouldn’t relate to it for various reasons, all of which were dumb and easily dismissed once I started reading. I think I was creating an elaborate defence mechanism, so if I didn’t like the book, I could be like “WELL it’s just because of X Y and Z” instead of having to say “I just didn’t like it,” which would be awkward because I will likely see the author at nu
Phil Dwyer
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canlit
Won't be to everyone's taste, because the characters are whiny, self-obsessed students with problems so insignificant they make Kim Kardashian seem deep. But that's never been a deterrent to a good writer. Most of Jane Austen's characters (Emma for example) are similarly self-absorbed and entitled. Not that I'm comparing Michael Hingston to Austen.
What I liked was the familiarity of the territory. It's been a long time since I was at University but I recognized it all, the faux intellectual post
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. It's rare that I come across a book that has me laughing (out loud, no less!) in sheer delight at its wittiness, and at its oh-so-hilariously-perfect depiction of campus life and the characters who inhabit it. I felt like I personally had met every one of those characters at some point during my life, and Hingston described the situations in which they found themselves with incredible insight and humour. All in all a great, fun read!
Sep 25, 2016 rated it liked it
I struggled with this one. I wanted to like it much more than I did, and in the end while I did enjoy my time with the book, it's not without its problems. Chief among them, I never at any point wanted to know or get to know any of the characters. They were all of them such special snowflakes, but me being ten-fifteen years removed from university life, I found I had extremely low patience for their antics and idiosyncrasies. But as I said, I really wanted to like this book, and in part I did—mo ...more
Kaitlyn Concilio
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
There's too much TV nowadays. Too many movies, too much media to consume for the average person! The completist (a depressingly un-endangered species nowadays) will lament this, because what's the point of doing anything if you can't do everything?

But there's a fix! Nowadays, in addition to actual criticism (I saw a thing, and I have a background in these things/can string together two sentences about it), the internet saw the invention and flourishing of the recap, wherein we take the old TV Gu
Feb 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
OK, I'll admit that the reason why I'm so partial to this book is because I also went to university in Vancouver not long ago. Therefore reading it was, in some ways, time travel for me. Mr. Hingston hits the nail on the head with the whole undergrad experience, with vivid descriptions of the student poster sales, the ubiquitous green Metro newspapers (which is a real paper, by the way), the normalcy of film shoots on campus, and of course, the student newspaper office.

I've heard that there's a
May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I had so much fun reading this book. I happened to attend Simon Fraser University, where the book is set--but so much of the book rang true to my undergrad experiences at other schools. The yearly ritual of the poster sale, for instance. The weird hand-drawn comics I didn't get in the school newspaper. And, maybe most of all, the sense of just starting to finally figure things out once they are coming to a close. Part of what attracted me to The Dilettantes was that it's a classic underdog story ...more
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-reads
I purchased this book from the author after hearing him give a brilliant talk. I really enjoyed reading this. It perfectly captures the hilarious highs and lows that come with working at a student newspaper and, for me personally, it brought back wonderful memories. I'm looking forward to reading Hingston's next book.
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Read, enjoyed thoroughly, gave to Aldon.
Jul 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Easy to read and I'm greatful that the author wrote it. Loved to read that book. Thank you.
Lex J.
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
At first, I found this novel had too narrow a sphere of relate-ability. But as it the second act developed, I started to get some serious Hunter S. Thomson Rum Diary vibes and was fully on-board. Sometimes as a Canadian myself (one, as a writer, trying to dip my brush in the company ink) -- I find Canadian Lit difficult to hold at an arms reach; that said once I was able to renounce my point of origin, I find a lot of joy in Canadaicana. As I did with this novel.
Amanda Sobierajski
May 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Have you ever wanted to relive the minutiae of your university student association experiences, through the eyes of sardonic, privileged student editors? This excruciating journey is for you!

While the writing was clear I found neither the plot, nor characters, compelling enough to read until the end.
Matthew Quann
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
I received my copy of "The Dilettantes" from a Goodreads giveaway and I must first compliment the binding of the book! Really an attractive book that is highly comfortable to read (unlike some flimsy paperbacks). A bit of context is necessary for the review. I am in my fourth year of an undergraduate degree at a Canadian university. I found the book immensely entertaining as it examines the life of an undergrad student, and student-lead organizations, in a humorous and relatable manner. The main ...more
Riley Haas
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Every college novel I have ever read is set at a small, liberal arts college in either the US or England. Those novels resonate with us I believe in part because of their idealization of the college/university experience. This novel is set at a (real) commuter school, which is pretty rare, in the genre.
If that was the only notable thing about it, though, I think it would just be a unique spin on a tired genre. But this novel is both funny and affecting. And though my own personal experiences wer
George K. Ilsley
Jan 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: canada, fiction, satire
"Theirs was a generation of secondhand irony." Funny and incisive, this novel is sure to delight anyone who has recently recently wandered across a campus. Those readers who are especially familiar with SFU will be especially thrilled.

While Hingston describes some minor characters with deft and telling details, I found the central character, Alex, to have been left a blank slate. And not that likeable. I even re-read the beginning, to see if I had missed the part where he was described. Never di
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was such a fun book to read, and not only because I'm a fellow Peak alumn. It perfectly captures the university experience, and all the characters and eccentricities that go along with it. Mike's an incredibly gifted writer, and there are so many great gems and passages that will stay with me for a long time.
Oct 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Saw this on some book list on the CBC website and I'm glad I took the time, it's a fun, and funny, read about a struggling student newspaper at a Canadian university in 2009 and the shenanigans that go along with that and being in the final year of university. Started out strong, could have ended a bit a stronger, but still an enjoyable read.
Jun 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Not bad - a campus novel following the tradition of Amis and Davies but perhaps a couple too many cliched characters and not quite enough fully developed ones. However, it was an enjoyable read and thoroughly Canadian.
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Would I have enjoyed this book even if I wasn't an SFU alum who majored in English and knew a bunch of Peakies? HECK YES. But it sure made it even more fun.
Steve Goodyear
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the things I loved most about this book was the setting -- I got to read with nostalgia remembering my time at SFU and how much I enjoyed life on campus on Burnaby Mountain!
Sep 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian
I really wanted to love this book. The author is funny and has a beautiful way with words - iI often had to pause and reread some of his great phrases. Sadly,the story fell flat for me.
Sep 12, 2013 rated it liked it
An interesting read. As a former Peak hangeron and present SFU alumni, I enjoyed it.
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Oct 21, 2013
Holly Mcdonald
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Apr 23, 2014
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Michael Hingston is the author of Let's Go Exploring and The Dilettantes, and editor of the Short Story Advent Calendar. His journalism has appeared in Wired, the Washington Post, and The Guardian. Hingston lives with his family in Edmonton, Alberta.

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