Friday, March 13, 2020


Title:  Campusland
Author:  Scott Johnston
Publication Information:  St. Martin's Press. 2019. 336 pages.
ISBN:  1250222370 / 978-1250222374

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Devon University is an American private research university located in the New England town of Havenport."

Favorite Quote:  "The college campus, Milton thought, was a man's perfect place, a walled garden where beauty and youth came together in pursuit of the truth."

An elite Ivy-like university. Check. A college professor on a tenure track. Check. A first-year who feels that college stands in the way of the important person she is destined to be. Check. A group of activists who seek a cause and who seek to shake the establishment but all without disturbing their own comfortable lives. Check. A group of the entitled who feel that their pedigree puts them above the rest. Check. A university president who revels in his authority and wishes to be liked. Check. A diversity official. Check. A scandal in which truth seems to fall by the way side as everyone seeks to further their own agenda. Check.

Campusland checks all the stereotype boxes in the life of an elite university. It then takes these characters through a satirical journey that picks up on life as I can envision it happening on a college campus. Put all together, it creates an extreme picture that might make you say that this could not happen. Except that some of it does. The events of this book can individually be found on many a campus. The author creates a cohesive story out of a composite of reality. He does it in a way that is entertaining and funny while at the same time serious as a commentary on the state of our eduction system.

The story goes as follows. Eph Russell teaches English literature. His particular specialty is the 19th century. His family is from Alabama. He is a graduate of Samford University, and, well, if that sounds like Stanford when said quickly, so be it. It is a misconception he does not clear up and perhaps even encourages. In other words, he has reinvented himself in an image he deems suitable to the elite school at which he seeks tenure.

Lulu Harris is a first year, but, to her, a university is a waste of her time. She deems herself an influencer and dreams of being in a place like New York City making her mark. All of this happens while living off of her rich father's money, of course. She attempts to enter the elite within this elite environment. When that fails, she goes the opposite direction and reinvents herself as the victim and as a cause that the campus can rally behind.

That victim story involves Eph Russell, a supposed evening encounter, and inappropriate advances. In one move, she ruins a man's career and reputation and catapults herself to social media fame.

Does it end well for either one? Does the truth come out? Read and find out because unfortunately influencing the outcome is an entire university campus with different factions, each with their own agenda. Let's just say the climax is an extreme. The author paints a vivid and memorable picture of the event that culminates this story! It has me laughing and, at the same time, shaking my head that such absurdity is possible.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment