In the past month or so, Gary Shteyngart has been on the talk show circuit (even appearing on NPR’s Whad’Ya Know?). He’s been promoting his memoir entitled Little Failure. From the first review I read, I knew I wanted to read it. So I did (and would recommend it to those who like fish-out-of-water memoirs, mixed with “interesting” family life, drug/alcohol abuse and self-deprecating humor!). Gary was born Igor in Leningrad, and came to the United States with his family at age 7. He grew up in New York and went to college at Oberlin.
My next read happened to be another memoir, with self-deprecating humor along with “interesting” family life and drug/alcohol abuse. (Another feel-good book! Yes- that’s sarcasm.) Domenica Ruta takes the title With or Without You from one of the pop songs she used to listen to growing up in a working-class town north of Boston. Her relationship with her mother ran the spectrum of best friends to drug buddies. Nikki, as the author was known, also went to Oberlin for her undergraduate degree.
Both memoirs paint Oberlin as very liberal, with recreational drug and alcohol use seeming to appear as part of the required curriculum. It also seems like an art and music destination, a great place to move into assisted living, and a mecca for free-thinkers. Maybe the combination of everything that Oberlin is happens to be the magic recipe, churning out lots of writers along with many other creative types?
While you ponder that, watch Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture or her series Girls. Or listen to Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville. Or try a novel from local author Dan Chaon. Or laugh at Ed Helms in the Hangover films. Or…you get the picture. These are just a few of the creative Oberlin Alumni.