That Book About Harvard: Surviving the World’s Most (In)famous University One Embarassment at a Time

. 2012. 352p. 978-1-40226-750-5. 14.99.
In this raucous memoir of his first year at Harvard (he graduated in 2008), Kester (writer, careens from one embarrassing situation to another, full of self-doubt and convinced he will never fit in. This common college experience is intensified by the Harvard mystique of brainy superiority, which only heightens Kester’s feelings of not belonging. The book spins out hilarious stories of academic misfortune, futility on the football field, and awkwardness with both roommates and female classmates—all presented with adolescent vulgarity and the quick pace of stand-up comedy. His romantic and sexual longings are sources of torment for much of the year and eventually part of his redemption. This story of college freshman anxieties could be set anywhere, but he evokes the Harvard atmosphere well, with scenes of its buildings, traditions, and prominent figures (e.g., President Lawrence Summers and Mark Zuckerberg). As the riotous year of angst comes to an end, his depression and self-absorption give way to glimmers of personal and academic maturity.
VERDICT A light-hearted and raunchy story of frat boy–style college adventures, this book is written with skill and (a kind of) grace. An enjoyable addition to the genre.
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