It’s a STEM World After All

You made your way through college dodging math and science courses and are now confronted with the grim realities (financial and otherwise) of your less-than-trendy Liberal Arts degree. May I suggest that you add Julie Schumacher's Dear Committee Members to your required reading list? It's an hilarious book about the sorry state of the Humanities in general and a certain acerbic English professor in particular whose epistolary jousting is guaranteed to tickle you.

English majors don't get no respect, and Jay Fitger gets less than most. A has-been novelist and struggling academic in the largely-ignored English Department of Payne College (a second-rate institution somewhere in the Midwest), Fitger spends his days responding to endless student requests for letters of recommendation (LORs) which he composes while brooding on the funding dollars that pour into the Science departments and the precipitous decline of his own English Department, about which no one seems to mind particularly.

Fitger's LORs are the meat of this novel. They reflect his professional dismay, his personal angst, and his burning desire to get at least a few of his Creative Writing students (the deserving ones, he hopes, and not the ones who write about vampires) admission to writer's retreats, scholarships or decent jobs. His zinger-rich letters also exhibit his caustic wit--pointed enough to draw blood--and his lack of a filter. He says whatever's on his mind and his remarks are always uproarious.

Is Fitger bitter about holding the short end of the academic stick? You bet he is. But luckily for English majors everywhere he is not going gently into that good night. His missives will likely not improve the unhappy lot of Humanities scholars but his personal humanity and outrageous outrage will touch you and make you laugh out loud. Author Julie Schumacher is a faculty member in the Department of Creative Writing and English at the University of Minnesota, so I suspect that she's fully aware that it's a STEM world after all...