Is the phrase “a farce set in art school” redundant? Cate Dicharry’s first novel takes that view, and while this position could easily be insufferable as well as unnecessary—hitting the broad side of a barn is not exactly a daring challenge—she makes it an unvarnished delight. This is an especially wise authorial move given how well-worked a genre the campus novel is—and how brave or even foolhardy it is to follow the likes of Kingsley Amis, Mary McCarthy, and Randall Jarrell. Yet contrary to the opinion of some (“Last rites for the campus novel”), the genre is not over, or even near over. Like romance and tragedy, the academy is not a finite resource. These genres are vehicles; what matters, as always, is who’s driving the car and where it’s headed.
The target audience of The Fine Art of Fucking Up—“fine
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