“To be up all night in the darkness of your youth but to be ready for the day to come…that was what going to Brown felt like.” —Jeffrey Eugenides
In celebration of Brown University’s 250th anniversary, fifty remarkable, prizewinning writers and artists who went to Brown provide unique stories—many published for the first time—about their adventures on College Hill. Funny, poignant, subversive, and nostalgic, the essays, comics, and poems in this collection paint a vivid picture of college life, from the 1950s to the present, at one of America’s most interesting universities.
Donald Antrim, Robert Arellano, M. Charles Bakst, Amy DuBois Barnett, Lisa Birnbach, Kate Bornstein, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Mary Caponegro, Susan Cheever, Brian Christian, Pamela Constable, Nicole Cooley, Dana Cowin, Spencer R. Crew, Edwidge Danticat, Dilip D’Souza, David Ebershoff, Jeffrey Eugenides, Richard Foreman, Amity Gaige, Robin Green, Andrew Sean Greer, Christina Haag, Joan Hilty, A.J. Jacobs, Sean Kelly, David Klinghoffer, Jincy Willett Kornhauser, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, David Levithan, Mara Liasson, Lois Lowry, Ira C. Magaziner, Madeline Miller, Christine Montross, Rick Moody, Jonathan Mooney, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Dawn Raffel, Bill Reynolds, Marilynne Robinson, Sarah Ruhl, Ariel Sabar, Joanna Scott, Jeff Shesol, David Shields, Krista Tippett, Alfred Uhry, Afaa Michael Weaver, and Meg Wolitzer
“At Brown, we felt safely ensconced in a carefree, counterculture cocoon—free to criticize the university president, join a strike by cafeteria workers, break china laughing, or kiss the sky.” —Pamela Constable
This appealing collection, edited by Brown alum Sternlight, is neither an ode to the institution nor a glossy publicity stunt marking the university's 250th anniversary. It's a relaxed roundtable of reminiscences from accomplished graduates writers, journalists, filmmakers, artists that evidences the "loosey-goosey, roll-with-it" intellectual aesthetic for which Brown is known. Generally appreciative, with rare moments of self-indulgence, the essays, poems, and visual art from contributors including Donald Antrim, Edwidge Danticat, and Meg Wolitzer tell familiar narratives of the tumultuous college years: angst and insecurity; entering a "world of ideas and action"; the awakening of passions for a cause, a profession, or a person. Stories are told with sincerity, skill, and an occasional, welcome shot of sarcasm, as seen in Rick Moody's hilarious mock syllabus and Jeffrey Eugenides's sly jabs at the Ivies. Some selections are frankly philosophical and some political, taking stock of a culture, an era, or historical moment, such as the push for Brown's infamous "No Curriculum" or the walkout of black students in 1968. Non-Brunonians, standing outside the charmed gates of College Hill, can still relate to the stories of doubt and revelation, share the fondness for one's alma mater as a place both "sheltering and stimulating," and relive that unique prickling sensation of the intellect expanding.