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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bill Smith Goes to College by David Stag

 An Over-The-Top Satire About College

Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform in 2012.

We all know that going to college is a major life event. Everything changes in a student's daily life - new place to live, new routines, new friends, new responsibilities and, of course, being exposed to new ideas. 

But, those of us who have gone to college know that the happy brochures that prospective parents pore over with their teenagers are not quite reality. Despite the promises to support young academics in their quest for truth and knowledge, incompetent administration, petty professors and arbitrary decisions often act to make college less of a quest for knowledge and more a test of a young person's ability to bend and twist to the whims of a bureaucratic system. Can you go along to get along? If so, step forward and get your diploma.

David Stag's Bill Smith Goes to College is a satire, somewhat in the vein of Jonathan Swift's famed essay, A Modest Proposal. Or, if you like a more modern example, it is in the vein of Rush Limbaugh's declaration that he illustrates "the absurd with absurdity." Take the crazy situation and make it even more crazy to make your point.

So, what is Stag's point exactly?

He has a bunch of them. Here are a few:

1) You are on your own when you go to college;

2) Your values will not be respected if they disagree with those sanctioned by the college;

3) Your time will not be respected;

4) There are prescribed classes to take on a list. You need to take them and not worry about what they have to do with your major;

5) Most professors have nothing new to say, even though they are required to publish. And, once they publish, no one really reads what they read anyway;

6) Some people never leave college;

7) Sometimes you are taught things that make no sense. Just go with it;

8) Some people like to protest against everything. They are annoying and mindless (even though they think they are enlightened);

9) On the other hand, think for yourself and act when you need to.

10) College is a racket, a scheme to bilk the government out of a lot of money in student loans and grants.

When Bill Smith arrives at Mountebank University (yes, it is intentional -a mountebank is a person who tricks people out of their money) and finds that he has no dorm room (he has to sleep at the end of the hallway), the showers are co-ed (but don't look too much or you'll be slapped with a harassment suit!) and his schedule doesn't really make any sense. 

As he goes through his first week at college he meets a colorful cast of over-the-top crazy people who make life at college a confusing mess. Every university employee is exaggerated to make Stag's point and most work quite well (with the glaring exception of Adolph Hilter, a character based on Hitler).  However, I really enjoyed the psych professor named Dr. Flake who had a complete breakdown in front of class.

So, if you like sedate satire, the kind that settles in smoothly and causes you to ponder, well...this ain't it. But, if you like in-your-face satire that never lets up and makes it points early and often this is your book.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5. 

Note: this book was sent to me by the author to be reviewed, but the review is my honest opinion.




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