Jason Fitger of Payne University is a frustrated professor trying to remain afloat in a leaky academic boat: English literature. He writes mountains of recommendation letters on behalf of his students, most of whom he finds unworthy of the effort. Some are seeking job placements, others various academic opportunities.
Dear Committee Members consists entirely of these letters, in chronological order, over the course of a year. Most consist of sarcastic comments about the applicants and backstabbing remarks about colleagues. Along the way, Jason adds jealous references to the English department’s declining budget and his deplorable working conditions.
A sentence from one letter will give you a taste of Jason’s poison pen: “His approach to problem solving is characterized by sullenness punctuated by occasional brief bouts of good judgment.” Yet, he goes to bat on behalf of students whom he finds promising.
Jason admits that he is universally despised by his colleagues. Letters to his ex-wife and ex-lover reveal that his personal life is slowly deteriorating, along with his profession and the decrepit building in which he works.
Julie Schumacher’s novel is highly amusing and cleverly penned in the vernacular one would expect from an English professor. I’m glad to recommend it, with the warning that the text contains a sprinkling of foul language.