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Dear Committee Members

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  9,892 Ratings  ·  2,277 Reviews
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
...more
Hardcover, 181 pages
Published August 19th 2014 by Doubleday (first published 2014)
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karen
Apr 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: free-from-work
this is an like epistolary version of Lucky Jim, in which a jovial but pompous and generally unlikeable blowhard of an english professor bloviates and alienates his way through a series of letters of recommendation, straying from the task at hand to insert his own unrelated gripes and personal attacks, destroying bridges he has already burned, while somehow, admirably, also providing a narrative arc.

it's just a little wisp of a novel, but anyone who has spent any time at all in the halls of acad
...more
Miranda Reads
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Ahhhh, my favorite pit of despair: Academia

This fit the 2017 PopSugar reading challenge (A Book of Letters) just perfectly. I wanted a book only told through letters. No narration, no forward, no nothing. And, Dear Committee Members followed that to the letter (ha).

This story is told through a series of increasingly passive-aggressive and personal letters from Jason Fitger, a creative writing professor at Payne University. (Ha. Payne)

He becomes increasingly frustrated by funding, school politics
...more
Carol.
Dear Fellow Readers:

I am pleased to endorse to you the short little epistolary novel, "Dear Committee Members." This book will most likely be hilarious if you are familiar with the onuses and whims of bureaucratic academia, as the narrator, Mr. Jason Fitger, is one of the (few) tenured members of the English Department in a small, midwestern college. However, it would also be enjoyable for people who enjoy acerbic wit. Undoubtedly, whatever your persuasion, you will find this work a quick, diver
...more
Esil
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Dear Goodreads friend,
I am writing to highly recommend that you read Dear Committee Members, especially if you have a propensity to enjoy sardonic academic satires written in the form of LORs (letters of reference) written by a cantankerous professor of English literature who has a tendency to irk many colleagues and former spouses, has an endless supply of pet peeves, but nevertheless cares for a handful of his more talented students and colleagues and has many valid -- albeit overwrought -- ob
...more
Diane
Nov 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Anyone who has spent time in academia will get a chuckle out of this book. It's a collection of letters from a disgruntled English professor at a small college. Most of the missives are Letters of Recommendation for students, but there are also emails and memos to colleagues.

The novel, written by a woman who is a writing professor at the University of Minnesota, smartly touches on a lot of the current problems in higher education, including its overreliance on part-time instructors instead of f
...more
Elyse
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I join readers before me who recommend Professor Fitger’s endless letters of recommendations.

Funny - clever - book!!!

“Signing off with the usual commitment to righteousness and justice,
Jay Fitger, Winner’s Circle
American Letter of Recommendation Society”

P.S. “I assume it was someone’s idea of a joke to insert in the minutes from last week’s budget meeting the idea of me serving as associate chair? Given your three-year mandate to ‘turn English around’, I presume that — if you need assistance
...more
Lisa
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dear Author,

It is with deeply felt regret that I have to tell you that I can't recommend your book to the wider Goodreads community, despite the fact that I really liked it. It even made me laugh out loud many times, serving as a perfect digression from some heavy reading that I had to digest this weekend.

Why, you might rightly ask, dear Author, will I then not do you the favour to write something nice about it? Something about the hilarious idea to reinvent the epistolary genre with a funny c
...more
James Thane
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a very funny and also a very smart look at the contemporary world of academia as seen through the endless numbers of letters of recommendation written by Jason T. Fitger, a professor of Creative Writing and English at the fictional Payne University, which is located somewhere in the Midwest.

Like so many other disciplines in the Humanities, Fitger's English department appears to be under siege. Its budget has been slashed; full-time tenured faculty are being forced out in favor of part-t
...more
Angela M
Oct 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Of course there is a serious commentary on the state of academic affairs here especially of English and Creative Writing Departments, but this book was extremely funny and I loved
it . I don't mean to diminish the serious underlying message but I laughed out loud . Jay Fitger , Professor of Creative Writing and English at Payne University seems to spend a good part of his day writing letters of recommendation for students and former students for jobs, graduate school or literary residence progra
...more
Howard
Ms. Nan A. Talese
Doubleday Publishing
1745 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

Dear Ms. Talese:

I saw online that you were the contact person for Doubleday Publishing and that manuscripts must be submitted by agents because you do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Well, relax Nan, that isn’t why I am contacting you.

No, I have several other reasons I would like to tell you about:

• I became aware of the book Dear Committee Members when several of my respected friends gave it good reviews on Goodreads. I als
...more
Nikki
An entire novel written in the form of passive-aggressive recommendation letters sounds like the kind of gimmick that would get old really quick - especially with such a whisper-thin plot. But if you have a weakness for witty, self-destructive English professors who can effortlessly reduce someone to the size of a Tic Tac in six words or less, you will probably be thoroughly entertained for at least 80% of it.
Diane S ☔
Jul 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
The novel is a series of letters, recommendations and posts from a Professor of English and Creative writing at Payne University. Form these posts we learn of the Professors frustration at the state of the building where his office is as well as that of this whole program in general. Of the impeding death of creative writing or writing actual books and his impulsive personal life.

Extremely witty, tongue-in-cheek humor, sarcasm and ironic, the author deftly presents her story in an unusual form.
...more
Jenna
Let me begin my review of this novel about the lovable eccentricities of academia by providing an anecdote about a lovably eccentric academic I once knew. A favorite English professor of mine was constantly in a delightfully manic state of enthusiasm about every scrap of literature ever written, each scrap of which he had personally read. He was so overwhelmed with appreciation for every syllable ever put to paper by humankind and had a keen sense of reverence for the critical role any given sub ...more
Larry H
Dec 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
You know, it has been a while since I've read a supposedly funny book that actually turns out to be funny, but Julie Schumacher's Dear Committee Members was great fun. I even laughed out loud in a few spots, and I don't think it's entirely because I was picturing the book as if it were read by a committee member of mine, who tends to write with the same verbose style as Schumacher's narrator.

Jason Fitger is a weary professor of creative writing and literature at Payne University. He was once a w
...more
Mona
Mar 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rebecca Foster
Jason Fitger is a middle-aged professor of English and creative writing at Payne University, a middling liberal arts college somewhere in the American Midwest. That was a lot of “mids” for one sentence. Rest assured, though: there is nothing average about Schumacher’s second novel. Told entirely through the irascible Fitger’s letters of recommendation for his colleagues and students, it is a delightful epistolary. Fitger’s barbed comments and garrulousness will keep you laughing. Schumacher hers ...more
Bryn Greenwood
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
3.5 stars.

I may have found this funnier than the average reader - I grew up around English departments, which are strange places.
Betsy Robinson
Dec 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Hilarious! The novel comprises the recommendation letters (for worthy or less-than-worthy students) of one weary professor of creative writing and English at Payne University—pun intended. Professor Jason Fitger is twice divorced and sometimes has to direct his letters to his ex-wives or ex-lover. Not only is the novel funny, but it is moving. Fitger becomes more and more real; you can feel not only his disgust at his department (which he compares to the Titanic), at himself and his hopeless sit ...more
Susan
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a short, epistolary novel, consisting of a range of letters and emails sent from Jason (Jay) Figer, a Professor of Creative Writing and English at Payne University. Figer, we soon learn, is beleaguered in a building and a department which is less than perfect. The upper floors are being redesigned for the Economics department, while the English department suffers a lack of funding, dust from the building works, leaky windows and general dissatisfaction with their lot. More than once, Fig ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is a short, enjoyable epistolary novel, composed entirely of letters of recommendation written by a curmudgeonly English professor. You might wonder how anyone could make a story out of that, but Schumacher manages, by dint of the professor’s complete lack of a filter about what belongs in professional letters (personal information and complaints about university bureaucracy appear frequently), and the fact that three frequent recipients of his LORs are also his exes. Nor are the letters li ...more
Victoria (RedsCat)
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2014
I thought about writing my review of Dear Committee Members as a letter, but realized I’m not nearly so clever or funny as Jason Fitger, the cantankerous hero of this epistolary novel by Julie Schumacher.

Sure Professor Fitger is cranky but with good reason. Several good reasons. It’s not easy to be an English and Creative Writing professor in this day and age. So he feels like a dying breed in a vocation under attack by those would happily dispose of arts and humanities. Not to mention relegatin
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Joni Tevis
Shelves: read2015, epistolary
Recommended to me by a member of my university's English department, it would be hard not to find some similarities between the department woefully underfunded and unsupported in this novel and at any liberal arts institution in the United States. Or maybe any academic institution, but the detail of having a department chair from outside the department? Let's just say that felt awfully familiar. Told completely in an epistolary form by a fed-up tenured member of the department, most letters are ...more
Lisa B.
Jul 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My Thoughts

This story is told through a series of letters written by Professor Jason Fitger.

I laughed so hard reading this that my stomach hurt and I had tears rolling down my face. Professor Fitger’s writes eloquently worded letters that are delightfully witty, frequently snarky and filled with cynicism. While set in the world of academia, anyone who has had to send politically correct emails or letters should get a kick out of Professor Fitger’s ability to say just exactly what he is thinking.
...more
Terri Jacobson
Jason Fitger is a professor of English and creative writing at Payne University, a small institution in the American Midwest. We come to know him through his correspondence--mostly letters of recommendations (LORs) for students and colleagues seeking prizes, graduate teaching positions, and, indeed, jobs of all kinds. His letters are pithy, cogent, droll, and sneakily subversive. The humor builds through the novel and never becomes old. The surprising thing is how well we come to know Fitger, ho ...more
Julie
May 06, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: light
I spent about an hour with this book and that was WAY more time than it deserved. And here I'd heard such good things about it. And me and academic, too. Oh well. (I won't put it in the category "didn't finish" because I did leaf through the whole thing.)

The book is made up of a series of letters from our hero (?) to a variety of recipients. He's a professor of English. He's recommending people for various jobs, fellowships, etc. The first one/two letters are rather entertaining, but I don't se
...more
Guy Austin
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
What the hell just happened? I picked this book off a dusty library shelf after exhausting all efforts to acquire one of my - To Be Read - titles growing like weeds on my Goodreads list.

It's hilarious. What a wonderfully quirky little novel full of sarcastic babbling of a burnt out Professor of Creative Writing and English. Did I mention he is also a published novelist who's creative juices have been squeezed so completely he is left to opine with absurdity and overt honesty within-Recommendati
...more
Karen
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
So very funny, so very true, so very poignant - I laughed my way through this book of letters by English Professor Jay Fitzger. Prof. Fitzger is not, at first, a character to admire, but as I continued to read (and wish I were brave enough to write some of the truths he does), I saw the caring and concerned teacher and friend underneath the bitter and frequently inappropriate facade. If you love language, read this book. Prof. Fitzger is eloquent.
Karen
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I grabbed an ARC of this at ALA Annual 2014 (thanks, Doubleday!) It looked like a light, fun read, and since I've spent most of my career in academe, I can relate to the crazy-making politics of it. I expected to enjoy seeing some fun poked at the modern university, and to enjoy the novel (if slightly gimmicky) medium of writing a story in the format of recommendation letters.

This book is all that, but it also surprised me with its continuing through-line of sadness and anger. Our protagonist, J
...more
Sarah
Dec 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Jason Fitger, a professor of creative writing and literature at a small college, writes the most entertaining letters of recommendation that I have ever read. I doubt ANYONE gets a job based on his letters, but that probably encourages him. He uses his letter writing to say what he wants about his exes, his employer, other writers, people he once knew and the unfortunate person asking for the recommendation. It is funny and easy to read as the book is only his letters in order over a year. Thoug ...more
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Dear Commitee Members 1 6 Jun 04, 2018 07:48PM  
2017 Reading Chal...: The Bottom: a Moving Target 1 17 Dec 06, 2015 07:58AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher 5 29 Feb 08, 2015 05:14PM  
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102 followers
JULIE SCHUMACHER grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, and graduated from Oberlin College and Cornell University, where she earned her MFA. 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. Her 2014 novel, Dear Committee Members, won the Thurber Prize for American Humor; she is the first woman to h ...more
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“I haven’t published a novel in six years; instead, I fill my departmental hours casting words of praise into the bureaucratic abyss. On multiple occasions, serving on awards committees, I was actually required to write LORs to myself.” 5 likes
“The reading and writing of fiction both requires and instills empathy—the insertion of oneself into the life of another.” 5 likes
More quotes…