LOR: Letters of Recommendation.

Julie Schumacher has written a clever novel made up entirely of letters of recommendation written by one curmudgeonly English professor.  In DEAR COMMITTEE MEMBERS: A NOVEL, the professor at a struggling mid-west University writes letters of recommendation for his students and  his colleagues. Each letter reveals details of his own hapless career, his memories, and  his personal failures, as well as quirky and somewhat pertinent facts about those he endorses. Some LOFs are slyly negative. Some, more obvious- especially when the professor’s feelings prevail, as in the letter that torpedoes the career change of his colleague and former lover.

Writing to obtain a grant, a graduate job, an entry level position, or an intervention for his students, he reveals the grades he awarded to each  and the assessment he made of their characters. Throughout the novel, many letters promote a particular writer,  but no one seems to share the professor’s enthusiasm for this young man and his partly-written novel. There is an abundance of sarcasm, as when he comments on the renovation of the university building where he and the English Department hunker down, while the important Economics Department is moved to more serene surroundings.

A quick, amusing read that is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever inhabited the world of academia.


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