STORIES PARENTS SELDOM HEAR: College Students Write About Their Lives and Families by Harriet Harvey

STORIES PARENTS SELDOM HEAR: College Students Write About Their Lives and Families

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Eleven essays in self-definition that huddle together beneath a floppy umbrella title but never quite manage to fuse into a book. Harvey (a journalist, editor, and TV consultant) taught writing at Yale from 1972 to 1977. To make this collection, she simply took the fragmentary autobiographies turned in by her students, prefaced each piece with a short sketch of the author, and appended post-graduation interviews--noting with motherly pride how they're moving along in their careers, resolving their conflicts, etc. These young men and women are a lively lot: bright, normal, decent individuals and able, though not extraordinary, writers. In typical Ivy-League fashion, they represent a more varied racial, ethnic, economic, and regional mix than one gets elsewhere; nonetheless the sum of their efforts is neither remarkable in itself nor strikingly better than the sort of thing any teacher of expository writing might compile after a good semester's work. Harvey's group has a few exotics--an Indian from Dar es Salaam, a fiery black Puerto Rican, an ultra-rich WASP heiress--but their experiences, like those of their classmates, grow out of the usual adolescent crises (identity, sex, religion, death). And while parents may seldom hear such stories from their own offspring, only a very unsophisticated adult could be shocked--or enlightened--by reading how one Yalie spent his summers in high school, hanging out at the beach and rotting away in horny idleness, or how another spent a catastrophic year living with his girlfriend in a tiny college room. On the grim side, one of the women came to Yale after an affair with a pusher that ended with an abortion (just after her 16th birthday) and some ugly beatings. On the fluffy side, an obnoxious, cutesy-poo princess seems to have done nothing at Yale except pet her cat and flirt with a law student. It's all harmless (and sometimes interesting) enough, but basically inconsequential.

Pub Date: March 21st, 1983
Publisher: Delacorte