Author: Eric Kester

Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1402267505

Eric Kester thrives upon styling himself as somewhat of a jock from the very first page of this hilarious account of his freshman year at that most prestigious of all universities―Harvard. His rollicking account has one amused from start to finish of this autobiographical account of what it means to be a newby at a tertiary level educational establishment that is renowned throughout the world for its academic excellence. Kester elicits our sympathy for any student who embarks on the pathway of further learning, and who is not quite sure of where or how to tread next, let alone whether he will prove himself capable of doing so at all.

At first, Kester’s apprehensions are humorously played out by imagining the letter of rejection that he fears he will receive from his university of choice. Delighting in turning scholarly conventions into the fitting subject of his sharp wit, he parodies the use of footnotes that are so prolific in academic writing. In declining him (and any of his future offspring) an offer of admission to Harvard, the office of Harvard Admissions (in his imagination) writes: “This was not an easy decision*, but ultimately we concluded that it reflects poorly on the Harvard brand to admit a student who would be better served attending a lesser school, perhaps as a janitor.” Declaring himself more of a “Star Wars guy” than a “loser Trekkie geek,” Kester finds his first dilemma in res is how to retrieve a box of fantasy video games from a hallway while dressed in only his boxers. Though he has prepared himself academically for varsity life by swatting up on mathematical constants, he confronts the rigours of dorm life with a great deal more concern than he does nonchalance. And so the book goes on, from anecdote to anecdote. As refreshing as Cold Comfort Farm was respecting (?) the close-set agrarian community, That Book about Harvard: Surviving the World’s Most Famous University One Embarrassment at a Time opens up the stifling mythologically bound ivory towers of academia to refreshing gales of laughter. Since such heady and halcyon days, the author has continued to adopt a bright and breezy approach to life, writing for and for the Boston Globe.

That Book about Harvard is well worth a read by anyone with the vaguest pretension to a college upbringing―this work’s zestful cogency is bound to sweep away many a sagging cobweb that festoons the darker nooks and crannies of many an august higher education establishment.

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