Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Take a break from college prep with some of these school related stories

As a way of mentally relaxing after finishing this year's maximum opus The Passage,I decided to take a trip on the lighter side with a nice reread of Jane Austen in Scarsdale by Paula Marentz Cohen,who also wrote the P&P meets the Golden Girls themed novel Jane Austen in Boca.

With this Austen related book,Cohen uses Persuasion as the backbone for her story of Anne Erhlich,a guidance counselor who winds up running into the former love of her life,Ben Cutler,a man who her snooty relations encouraged her to spurn. Ben's nephew is spending his senior year at Anne's school and needs help getting into the right college,which has Ben and Anne crossing paths and wondering if they can reconnect with one another.

The subtitle of the story is "Love,Death and the SATs",which is no joke to many of the parents that Anne and her fellow work colleagues have to deal with as they work themselves into a frenzy to get their kid accepted at the best schools. Some of the satire in the background of the book deals with the tricks and gimmicks that many folks use to package potential students as viable college commodities,which has become quite a growing industry over the past several years:

Since this is the start of the graduation season,I thought it would be fun to highlight a few other books that take higher learning into consideration. One of the subplots of Jennifer Weiner's In Her Shoes has wayward Maggie hiding out at her big sister Rose's alma mater to recover from not only a particularly harsh riff with her sibling but a couple of other bad encounters as well.

Maggie manages to pass as a student and even attends a few classes before her ruse is up and she goes off to find her maternal grandmother. That section of the story didn't make the cut when it was adapted into a major motion picture,which worked out fine but could have been interesting to see on the big screen:

Best known for her lively collection of letters in 84,Charing Cross Road,Helene Hanff also wrote about her other literary pursuits including her self education after having to leave college due to lack of funds. The "Q" in Q's Legacy is Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch,an esteemed professor of literature who taught at Cambridge and whose book,On the Art of Writing,young Helene discovered at the Philadelphia Public Library.

The various references to classic works in that book began Helene's lifelong pursuit of English literature,her professional writing career and the never ending expansion of her home library which gave her enormous personal as well as intellectual pleasure:

One of the big things about college is moving away from home and diving into new territory both social and educational,a crucial ingredient in Katie Crouch's novel told via interconnected short stories Girls in Trucks.

Southern debutante Sarah not only notices the changes in her older sister Eloise upon leaving their old life but in herself when she goes off to college in New York,a world of very different rules and values that she and her childhood girlfriends were subject to. Even in such awkward introductions to a strange new world,new friendships are formed and old ties hold on with some of the familiar touches that mean so much:

Even for those of us well past our school years,a couple of these books should be welcome breaks from the daily grind. As to the budding young collegians out there sweating over test scores and application forms,take a pop culture breather and remember that you're not the only one who will be entering those university buildings with more than a little trepidation.

College may not be for everyone but some were just born to thrive under an educational light and for those folks,best of luck out there but remember all work and no play leads to very bad things in the end,so chill out whenever possible and have faith in your mental merits:


Alyce said...

I love the Rory and Yale scenes! "Copper Boom" is one of my favorite nonsensical expressions. :)

lady t said...

Glad you like the clips,Alyce,and I dig Copper Boom,too(always thought it would make a great superhero name). I was worried that I overdid it with the GG clips but I was on a roll,so thanks for the feedback:D