Recent-ish memoirs set on college campuses
August 20, 2017 12:42 PM   Subscribe

I recently read Jennifer Boylan's She's Not There. I loved the setting in a New England college campus, among artsy, English department types. What are some other recent-ish memoirs (late 1990s - present) set in that environment?

As with Boylan's book, the point of the memoir can be something else (in this case, being transgendered). It's the setting that I'm looking for.

I prefer books written by women in general.
posted by 3491again to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Lucky, by Alice Sebold, is a moving and harrowing story of her rape as an undergraduate and its aftermath. I remember the campus (Syracuse, so upstate NY) being very much a part of the story. It was an amazing book, though really tough subject matter.
posted by gideonfrog at 1:47 PM on August 20, 2017

Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story is a memoir by an actress who moved to a small, Midwestern college town (Oberlin Ohio if it matters) only to be dumped by her husband, an English professor at the college. Here's a more detailed writeup.
posted by zebra at 1:48 PM on August 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding It Happens Every Day-- great memoir where, as the reader, you can see the train wreck approaching but all you can do is watch... and Oberlin is definitely another character in the story.
There's also a sequel called A Year and Six Seconds that covers the author's time in NYC after her husband leaves her.
I 'm not sure I could be friends with her, but I appreciated her honesty.
posted by bookmammal at 2:13 PM on August 20, 2017

The Idiot by Elif Batuman is set at Harvard in the 1990s and the protagonist studies languages and linguistics. I thought it was a good portrayal of the first year of college, with its confusions and inspirations, though plot-wise it is slight. I really enjoyed it.
posted by xo at 2:37 PM on August 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Not a memoir, but Zadie Smith's On Beauty fit your other criteria.
posted by AwkwardPause at 5:15 PM on August 20, 2017

Elizabeth Wurtzel's Prozac nation deals in large part with her experiences at Harvard, in a way that I found really genuine and interesting.

Melanie Thernstrom's first two books, The Dead Girl and Halfway Heaven, involve her life as an undergraduate at Harvard in different ways. The first is her memoir of the period when her best friend, a student at UC Berkeley, was murdered. The second is about a murder-suicide that took place at Harvard. Thernstrom was teaching there at the time, and she writes about that and (somewhat) about her undergraduate years in the course of discussing the campus culture that proved disastrous for the student who killed herself and her roommate.
posted by BibiRose at 5:43 PM on August 20, 2017

This may already be on your radar, but The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson fits perfectly.
posted by decathexis at 6:03 PM on August 20, 2017

Alma Mater: A Homecoming is a memoir by an alum of Kenyon College (a small, liberal-artsy college in Ohio) who returns several decades later to spend a year as an instructor. It's a fascinating look at how the liberal arts college evolves and stays the same over time.
posted by Itaxpica at 7:43 PM on August 20, 2017

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon has the setting. It's not a memoir, and the premise is very Tortured Male Writer, but it's not as bad as it might seem from the synopsis. There's a good movie adaptation starring Michael Douglas and Frances McDormand.
posted by caek at 9:36 PM on August 20, 2017

This is more about an artsy English department type studying an MBA (and dealing with culture shock), but What They Teach You at Harvard Business School: My Two Years Inside the Cauldron of Capitalism by Philip Delves Broughton may be interesting.
posted by divabat at 12:04 AM on August 21, 2017

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