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Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost: A Memoir of Hampshire College in the Twilight of the '80s

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A strange and salacious memoir of life at the ultimate hippie college during the height of Reaganomics Opening its doors in 1970, Hampshire College was once known as a land of eternal partying, where countercultures thrived and jocks were nowhere to be found. Self- proclaimed nerd Richard Rushfield knew this progressive Massachusetts campus was the place for him, offering A strange and salacious memoir of life at the ultimate hippie college during the height of Reaganomics Opening its doors in 1970, Hampshire College was once known as a land of eternal partying, where countercultures thrived and jocks were nowhere to be found. Self- proclaimed nerd Richard Rushfield knew this progressive Massachusetts campus was the place for him, offering a chance to shed his squeaky-clean California upbringing. He was part of the freshman class of 1986, hiding out from Reagan-era excess in a liberal haven where overachievement and preppy clothes were banned. By turns hilarious, ironic, and steeped in history, Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost takes readers to a campus populated by Deadheads, club kids, poets, and insomniac filmmakers, at a time when America saw the rise of punk and grunge alongside neo-conservatism, earnest calls for political correctness, and Take Back the Night vigils. Shunned by all of the school's reigning subcultures, Rushfield joins the most hated clique on campus, the Supreme Dicks, navigates a dating scene where to express interest in anything is social suicide, and mostly avoids class where hippie professors blather on about post-structuralism. Culminating in a mad clash of slackers and yuppies, Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost captures a watershed moment for American youth in one hilarious and unforgettable trip.


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A strange and salacious memoir of life at the ultimate hippie college during the height of Reaganomics Opening its doors in 1970, Hampshire College was once known as a land of eternal partying, where countercultures thrived and jocks were nowhere to be found. Self- proclaimed nerd Richard Rushfield knew this progressive Massachusetts campus was the place for him, offering A strange and salacious memoir of life at the ultimate hippie college during the height of Reaganomics Opening its doors in 1970, Hampshire College was once known as a land of eternal partying, where countercultures thrived and jocks were nowhere to be found. Self- proclaimed nerd Richard Rushfield knew this progressive Massachusetts campus was the place for him, offering a chance to shed his squeaky-clean California upbringing. He was part of the freshman class of 1986, hiding out from Reagan-era excess in a liberal haven where overachievement and preppy clothes were banned. By turns hilarious, ironic, and steeped in history, Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost takes readers to a campus populated by Deadheads, club kids, poets, and insomniac filmmakers, at a time when America saw the rise of punk and grunge alongside neo-conservatism, earnest calls for political correctness, and Take Back the Night vigils. Shunned by all of the school's reigning subcultures, Rushfield joins the most hated clique on campus, the Supreme Dicks, navigates a dating scene where to express interest in anything is social suicide, and mostly avoids class where hippie professors blather on about post-structuralism. Culminating in a mad clash of slackers and yuppies, Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost captures a watershed moment for American youth in one hilarious and unforgettable trip.

30 review for Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost: A Memoir of Hampshire College in the Twilight of the '80s

  1. 4 out of 5

    karen

    i am a moron. when i first signed up to win this from goodreads.com. i thought "yay - it will have stories of donna tartt and tales about what a douche bret easton ellis is/was", because my mind equated the entire state of new hampshire, including bennington, with hampshire college. and i am a new england girl, i even knew people (performance artists, naturally) who went to hampshire. so once my brain righted itself, i settled in to enjoy the book anyway. hampshire is an admirable concept-colleg i am a moron. when i first signed up to win this from goodreads.com. i thought "yay - it will have stories of donna tartt and tales about what a douche bret easton ellis is/was", because my mind equated the entire state of new hampshire, including bennington, with hampshire college. and i am a new england girl, i even knew people (performance artists, naturally) who went to hampshire. so once my brain righted itself, i settled in to enjoy the book anyway. hampshire is an admirable concept-college, that unfortunately few teens are equipped to take advantage of. i think i would love it now (except for the hippie "have a cause, save the world" side of it)but as a kid... that kind of freedom... i dont think i would have ended up like the author - cloistered in a foul-smelling cockroach-infested living area with thirty other lethargic philosophy-spouting people despised by the rest of the campus, never going to class, and committing acts of social terrorism, but i might have been less inclined to go to class if i didnt really have to. this book really captured the time period well, and i enjoyed laughing at the author who is now of course a successful writer while i for all my traditional going-to-class college life, am not. sigh... if the publisher is at all interested in "Typos I Have Found" in the ARC, lemme know. second attempt at review - first inexplicably erased. fingers crossed.

  2. 5 out of 5

    bettyx1138

    I was around for much of what went on in this entertaining and endearing book ("Meg".) Before reading it, I read in the promo blurb that the Hampshire student body hated the Dicks and friends. I was like, really? Its possible. No wait, I think I knew that at the time. Did I? No, that can't be true. I was scared to read it, paranoid that Rich would write something embarrassing about me. Hampshire was comprised mostly of smart, dynamic, diligent students whose brains and accomplishments are absolu I was around for much of what went on in this entertaining and endearing book ("Meg".) Before reading it, I read in the promo blurb that the Hampshire student body hated the Dicks and friends. I was like, really? Its possible. No wait, I think I knew that at the time. Did I? No, that can't be true. I was scared to read it, paranoid that Rich would write something embarrassing about me. Hampshire was comprised mostly of smart, dynamic, diligent students whose brains and accomplishments are absolutely respectful. The Hampshire administration can tell you about them. Richard did well in his final 2 years there but that would not an amusing tale make, and that's not what this book is about. Its about his first two years spent "creative floundering" - discovering what you are passionate about. And, the socializing one experiences at college - usually the first time an 18 year old lives independent of parents. But first, the non-accurate, IMHO: - Richard mentions a *rumor* that the Dicks cheered on the kid who drank cyanide laced cool aid as part of a performance on a campus TV broadcast. I never heard that rumor. I was not inside the TV studio, but I do not believe anyone cheered him on. The Dicks were were dicks but not that dickish. - I don't think Steve took 10 years to graduate. - Re: the "graffiti sign" incident - the language on the sign that he quotes I believe is somewhat inaccurate. From what I heard, the grafitti was even funnier than what he writes. If the school had showed the sign to anyone, it would have been 100% obvious that it was a sarcastic, PARODY of political incorrectness! (Think: Daily Show or Bill Maher mocking PC'ness.) The school never told the student body what the graffiti said! (Oh, and he left out a funny tidbit - that when one of the students who was forced to write a public apology submitted it to the administration, they made this person edit out the phrase "black cloud", as in the incident cast a black cloud over the campus. The administration thought this sounded racist!) OK, now the accurate: Yeah, I'd say its an accurate depiction of mod 21 life. Weirder and crazier shit was also going on at the time that is not in this book and I suppose was not a part of RR's intimate experience there. But, Richard could have exploited some other fucked up antics and behavior but did not. (Thank you, RR!) I thought the Dicks were brilliant at the time. Well, their (and my) films were brilliant. Conceptually, so was their music. (Emphasis on "conceptually." Think: John Cage as an arty, post-punk 20 year old in the 80s.) I thought everyone in the Pioneer Valley saw our nocturnal clan as The Artists and Philosophers of the school, if not the world. I thought people respected us for what they were incapable of doing. You know. Why be conventional and boring when you could be avant garde? Hmm? (Yeah, I actually thought this shit. I was young and naive.) I was mean at times to people who were "Normal" I remember now, and I feel just terrible about it. What was I thinking? Oh, I remember now... I was angry due to a fucked up childhood in sheltered middle America. (Where American punk and thrash came from?) I think my/our generation was notoriously unprepared for the real world. (I'm OK now, don't worry.) Our pre-baby boomer parents were unenlightened to things like expression of emotions and doing what makes you happy. They were still running on some kind of 1950's way of seeing the world. It sucks to be raised by that. I think the generations before and after us got better deals - the baby boomers were happy saving the world and growing their personal wealth, and their offspring had the benefit of communicative, involved parenting. In this respect, the book can be seen as socio-anthropological examination of the marginalized Generation X. I could be wrong. I was no American Studies major. (Which reminds me that most HC graduates seem to go on to grad school. The consensus is that grad school is loads easier than Hampshire too, btw.) Also, this book takes place in the days just b4 everyone ate Prozac like candy. I wonder how the recent prevalence of ADD meds and antidepressants has changed the student culture landscape in the years after I was a student. I wonder if they are bunch of well-behaved good student zombies. How boring that would be. OK, I have to go to the gym now. Good lord I am such a normal, bourgeoisie pig now. Whatever. Read the book - its a hoot!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    I was interested in this book because I went to Smith during the same years the author was at Hampshire. Smith and Hampshire were part of a five college network of schools in the area. The book was entertaining—his college experience was way different than mine, but we had a college radio show in common and I could follow the story better because I had some of the same reference points. It’s a little weird that the book only covers his first two (out of five total) years at Hampshire.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mark Feltskog

    Rarely do I fail to finish a book. However, I must say that this book is one for which I was happy to make an exception. The narrative, which is in fact essentially fiction, conforms to Dorothy Parker's dictum (and I paraphrase): "This is not a book to be set aside lightly; it should be thrown with great force." When I was a student at Hampshire, I avoided people like Richard Rushfield, just as I avoid them now. And by the way, Hampshire is what you make of it. If you are immature, there is a goo Rarely do I fail to finish a book. However, I must say that this book is one for which I was happy to make an exception. The narrative, which is in fact essentially fiction, conforms to Dorothy Parker's dictum (and I paraphrase): "This is not a book to be set aside lightly; it should be thrown with great force." When I was a student at Hampshire, I avoided people like Richard Rushfield, just as I avoid them now. And by the way, Hampshire is what you make of it. If you are immature, there is a good possibility you will make nothing of it--or worse, become a malignant force like Mr. Rushfield and his pals.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lennie

    In 1986, Richard Rushfield left his hometown of Los Angeles and traveled to Massachusetts so that he could begin his freshman year at Hampshire, a liberal arts college. At first he felt lost being thousands of miles away from home but then he slowly began to adapt to this New England campus and eventually he started to hang out with a group of students who had a reputation for being misfits. Young, away at college and on their own for the first time, Richard and his friends skipped class, got dr In 1986, Richard Rushfield left his hometown of Los Angeles and traveled to Massachusetts so that he could begin his freshman year at Hampshire, a liberal arts college. At first he felt lost being thousands of miles away from home but then he slowly began to adapt to this New England campus and eventually he started to hang out with a group of students who had a reputation for being misfits. Young, away at college and on their own for the first time, Richard and his friends skipped class, got drunk, smoked pot, snorted cocaine and partied late into the night. Eventually their destructive behavior caught up with them and they were either placed on probation or were being threatened with expulsion. Despite all the trouble he got into or the spectacular adventures he had (his words), Richard Rushfield considers the time he spent at Hampshire College the most memorable years of his life. I enjoy reading memoirs, especially from authors who are close in age to me and are from my generation because it’s always fun for me when that author mentions a song or band in their book that I grew up listening to and when that happens, I get to enjoy traveling down memory lane and reminisce about that time of my life. Unfortunately, in this memoir that occurred only occasionally; the majority of this book was about the different shenanigans Richard Rushfield and his friends pulled and it got to the point where I felt like they were scenes out of the film Animal House. Richard and his friends come across as childish and immature and after a while I was bored with this book and couldn’t wait to finish it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elyssa

    I chose to read this book because I considered applying to Hampshire College, but instead went to Hampshire's public and West Coast equivalent, Evergreen in Olympia, WA. I started college during the same year as this author and was interested to read his perspective on going to a liberal and non-traditional college in the 80s. Clearly Rushfield chose Hampshire for the wrong reasons because he had a hard time finding his niche. As he figured out a way to acclimate to the environment, he chose to I chose to read this book because I considered applying to Hampshire College, but instead went to Hampshire's public and West Coast equivalent, Evergreen in Olympia, WA. I started college during the same year as this author and was interested to read his perspective on going to a liberal and non-traditional college in the 80s. Clearly Rushfield chose Hampshire for the wrong reasons because he had a hard time finding his niche. As he figured out a way to acclimate to the environment, he chose to align himself with a group of post-punk radicals called The Supreme Dicks. Based on the author's portrayal of this group, it was hard to find any redeeming values or purpose to their existence. None of the members seemed at all likeable, including Rushfield. The most shocking passage of the book includes a very brief and dispassionate mention of one of The Supreme Dick's siblings who committed suicide by drinking cyanide on public access TV. I was so shocked by this information that I did an internet search to learn more since the author didn't bother to provide more details nor did it seem to phase him at all. This speaks to the core problem of this book--the author is continually distant from the reader. I understand that he is lost in the college he has chosen, but instead of building a narrative on these feelings of alientation he chooses a tone of detachment that made it impossible for me to care.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    I really, really want this book to be a movie, because I want to absorb the hilarious absurdity of Richard's book in more than one medium. This is the anti-college memoir, if you will, where those who suggest wet T-shirt parties are equated with fascists and rapists. It'll make you want to join a frat, even if you're a girl. I know this isn't a very helpful review but you just have to read it to enjoy it, especially if you have a hankering to read about an alternate universe where the put-upon a I really, really want this book to be a movie, because I want to absorb the hilarious absurdity of Richard's book in more than one medium. This is the anti-college memoir, if you will, where those who suggest wet T-shirt parties are equated with fascists and rapists. It'll make you want to join a frat, even if you're a girl. I know this isn't a very helpful review but you just have to read it to enjoy it, especially if you have a hankering to read about an alternate universe where the put-upon are the bullies and life is generally bizarre.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Inga

    Love it! It's a love song for a very crazy and special time and place. Love it! It's a love song for a very crazy and special time and place.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paxton Lee

    I never realized that "The Dicks" were "Hated". It was my experience that most people did not really think they were that important...just a group of people who felt they needed to give themselves an identity with a name, (who does that? Really?) and had to make a name for themselves by offending others...it was very pathetic. You could not help but to feel sad for them....Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is fairest of them all? Heaven forbid the mirror may speak truly, and praise another over Jun I never realized that "The Dicks" were "Hated". It was my experience that most people did not really think they were that important...just a group of people who felt they needed to give themselves an identity with a name, (who does that? Really?) and had to make a name for themselves by offending others...it was very pathetic. You could not help but to feel sad for them....Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is fairest of them all? Heaven forbid the mirror may speak truly, and praise another over Junkie Pride....cover to cover. A small liberal college where the values of the '60's meet the nihilism of the '80's at the height of Reganomics holds what significance for the 21st Century? As one who was there at the time, I do have to speak about some specifics, the racist sign was more offensive than is described....The reaction to the sign inspired a candle light vigil that arose spontaneously like a road side memorial for one who has fallen victim to a terrible fate. Having lived in small towns even smaller than Hampshire college, the solidarity of community in response to an offense was no different from many who live in main stream america. This seemed to be a unique experience for many who came from towns with more than 2000 people. Perhaps it was an important experience. About the wet tee shirt party, what I recall was some female students being pressured to attend....I recall a memo from the school....I recall attending a seminar on "Signs to look for" at a college party that would be indicators of violence against women, and asked as a man to look for such behavior and not to be afraid to speak out against them. After I read the book, I saw richard's picture....I remember him from freshman year....I was told after vandalising many dorms with references to male rape from the book "Less than zero", he was caught peeping at women in the showers and went back to L.A.....I guess that must have been wrong and just a 'small town rumor' at a small college....I discovered this was a rumor when I lived in a housing unit near where Richard lived. the only trouble I remember was once when a fire alarm went off, me and my buddy went through the dorms to make sure no one was trapped inside during a fire....and the fire chief balled us out afterwards for not acting properly during a fire drill.... "the night was dark and the sky was blue down the alley the cadillac flew hit a bump and someone screamed you should have heard just what I seen... who do you love?" Sorry Richard...our bad....nice conversation with you that night before the fire chief yelled at us....but I lived in a small town in alaska smaller than Hampshire college....so why tell the fire chief about a false alarm when it has already been settled? like I said, I ran into Richard, and he remembered me that night from the old hall....but that was it.....I doubt he remembers me now. like I said, I traveled in different circles....we heard of "the supreme dicks' once and a while, but they were never really important...I never realized Richard was one of the people who needed to form a group and label themselves to have an identity....we felt sad for them. and oh yeah...regarding the pretending to be part of a singing group to crash a party at Smith....it is much more fun when you are actually invited....(I learned the jitter bug from a lady from Shang hi at the same event)....and when a bunch of nerds bused in from Princeton to sing for the girls kept asking me "hey man, you are from hampshire....can you score us some drugs?" and after a dozen refusals on my part....I realized I had some aspirin....excedrine to be exact....and said "Be careful what you pray for fella because I am tired of being insulted" and I took their money and gave them pills with a big "E" on it and they told all their friends that they just got a big score....and with the money, I took two lovely ladies to Dennys and had more fun than just talking about it....I regret doing that now....it was a swindle....it is theft and bearing false witness....I was angry at the insults from the harrassement of ivy leaguers to be their drug dealer....and they would not let me walk away....I offer this not as an excuse for my selling aspirin, only an explanation of how the morality of my youth failed under peer pressure...I was angry....so I sold them excedrine and they left me alone....i wish I had done better and not done that....but it did fund a great date with some great ladies) (I thought I was going to miss that party at Smith too but I worked on a construction site to earn cash, and a buddy of mine who worked construction on the site because he had a warrent for his arrest in NY City for armed robbery of a gas station and he fled the state instead of showing up for sentencing, and he had no drivers license, but told me he would pick me up on his motorcycle to get me to the party.....but we had to stop to pick up 2 other fellas on the way....and one of them was hauling some beer....and because the driver had no license, once he got to northhampton, he got scared 4 people and a 1/4 barrel on a motorcycle may attract attention, so he deceided to drive on the sidewalks of Smith College....at full throttle, and shove us off the bike at each stop....really....it is much more fun when you are invited). All in all, i found the deeds of the book far less adventurous than the exploits of most from Hampshire college... have pity on us poor richard.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Karen Germain

    Richard Rushfield’s memoir, “Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost” details his years spent at Hampshire College during the late 80’s/ early 90’s. I simply did not buy into his story at all. It felt like someone who was recalling a series of events that over the years grew more monumental in his own mind. I also think they are stories that are far more interesting to the people who were actually there, rather than the reader. I felt like I was reading a bunch of inside jokes that I just didn’t get. Rushfield Richard Rushfield’s memoir, “Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost” details his years spent at Hampshire College during the late 80’s/ early 90’s. I simply did not buy into his story at all. It felt like someone who was recalling a series of events that over the years grew more monumental in his own mind. I also think they are stories that are far more interesting to the people who were actually there, rather than the reader. I felt like I was reading a bunch of inside jokes that I just didn’t get. Rushfield explains that Hampshire was a very experimental college. I get it. I have done the small liberal arts college thing. In fact, my experience at Bard, included a very odd class registration process that seems would have fit right in as part of Rushfield’s college experience. I just didn’t buy into the extremes of Rushfield’s story. It was too much. It was also not very interesting to read. If you’re going to be outlandish, at least be entertaining.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Yes Kids, before facebook and the interweb we would gather & sit around and listen to albums not saying much to each other. At times we would go out and do something silly. I have always been interested in hearing stories about Hampshire which was the polar opposite of the 79 Babson business school that I attended. I glad Richard wrote this. I enjoyed the book which was a funny and quick read. http://www.richardrushfield.com/2010/... perhaps this was what it was like. http://www.youtube.com/watch? Yes Kids, before facebook and the interweb we would gather & sit around and listen to albums not saying much to each other. At times we would go out and do something silly. I have always been interested in hearing stories about Hampshire which was the polar opposite of the 79 Babson business school that I attended. I glad Richard wrote this. I enjoyed the book which was a funny and quick read. http://www.richardrushfield.com/2010/... perhaps this was what it was like. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umeRwl...

  12. 5 out of 5

    fishie

    I read the first half of the book and ended up just skimming the rest. I didn't really like the style--it seems like the author was trying too hard to be funny. It also just wasn't that interesting to me. Although the structure of Hampshire College was interesting, the story itself wasn't--it seem likes another story about college students wasting their time doing whatever. The characters themselves were not very memorable and I did not develop a liking towards any of them. I read the first half of the book and ended up just skimming the rest. I didn't really like the style--it seems like the author was trying too hard to be funny. It also just wasn't that interesting to me. Although the structure of Hampshire College was interesting, the story itself wasn't--it seem likes another story about college students wasting their time doing whatever. The characters themselves were not very memorable and I did not develop a liking towards any of them.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Iondot

    While there are a few amusing bits, the book suffers from a cloistered and somewhat dull viewpoint. This is a shame because this book could have been interesting. The memoir recounts the writer's self-absorbed experience attending Hampshire College in the late 1980's. Twenty years later he doesn't seem to have much in the way of perspective on who he was or what was going on around him. In short, he has nothing interesting to say. While there are a few amusing bits, the book suffers from a cloistered and somewhat dull viewpoint. This is a shame because this book could have been interesting. The memoir recounts the writer's self-absorbed experience attending Hampshire College in the late 1980's. Twenty years later he doesn't seem to have much in the way of perspective on who he was or what was going on around him. In short, he has nothing interesting to say.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Drugs, music, and an utter lack of institutional control or criminal prosecution corrupt a young man at an institution that lays claim to 'higher learning' in only the punniest sense of the word. Nevertheless as a psychological study of obsession, ennui and disassociation, this book will be relevant to many who get to college without a good answer to the question 'Why am I here?'. Drugs, music, and an utter lack of institutional control or criminal prosecution corrupt a young man at an institution that lays claim to 'higher learning' in only the punniest sense of the word. Nevertheless as a psychological study of obsession, ennui and disassociation, this book will be relevant to many who get to college without a good answer to the question 'Why am I here?'.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stefanie

    To the author of "Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost: A Memorior of Hampshire College in the Twilight of the 80's": you entered Hampshire 15 years before I did, and yet everything you describe is incredibly familiar, if not of my own experience, then of someone I knew. Holy crap. Something things (or institutions) never change, as much as they try. To the author of "Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost: A Memorior of Hampshire College in the Twilight of the 80's": you entered Hampshire 15 years before I did, and yet everything you describe is incredibly familiar, if not of my own experience, then of someone I knew. Holy crap. Something things (or institutions) never change, as much as they try.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alan Kercinik

    1.5 out of 5. (I'm continually astounded that half-stars can't be granted.) One of a handful of books I've made an active choice to stop reading. This book should have spoken to me deeply -- somewhat formless child of the 80s goes to college and Finds Out Who He Is -- it didn't. I kept waiting to like this book. 115 pages in, I got tired of waiting. Neither the quality of the writing or the quality of Rushfield's reflections were enough for me. We all feel lost. Rushfield didn't do enough to expla 1.5 out of 5. (I'm continually astounded that half-stars can't be granted.) One of a handful of books I've made an active choice to stop reading. This book should have spoken to me deeply -- somewhat formless child of the 80s goes to college and Finds Out Who He Is -- it didn't. I kept waiting to like this book. 115 pages in, I got tired of waiting. Neither the quality of the writing or the quality of Rushfield's reflections were enough for me. We all feel lost. Rushfield didn't do enough to explain exactly why he felt lost and what caused him to fall in with the commune of fringe-artists and misanthropes he fell in with. That lack of specificity in his memories might be forgiven with sharper writing. There are flashes here and there, passages where a bit more depth of how Rushfield felt at the time leak in and make a page or two feel more alive. But those were infrequent.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    Whenever I find myself getting unduly nostalgic for the late-80’s/early-90’s, particularly as concerns those cultural elements which I feel like I missed out on, either being a shade too young at the time or for having grown up rurally, I grab a quick memoir to fill in the gaps and quickly the rose-tinted glasses fall as if scales from my eyes. This memoir of alternative higher education at Hampshire college in the late-80’s, at the height of the Amherst area underground alternative music scene Whenever I find myself getting unduly nostalgic for the late-80’s/early-90’s, particularly as concerns those cultural elements which I feel like I missed out on, either being a shade too young at the time or for having grown up rurally, I grab a quick memoir to fill in the gaps and quickly the rose-tinted glasses fall as if scales from my eyes. This memoir of alternative higher education at Hampshire college in the late-80’s, at the height of the Amherst area underground alternative music scene is by turns hilarious and depressing, focusing on the various scene cliches and apathy of the slacker genereration. It reminded me of my own ill-fated, mis-guided visit to that very same campus in 1995— a legendary tale within my family and old-school friend stable.

  18. 5 out of 5

    James Lowe

    This ended up in my collection because it was sent to the Gazette years ago for a review. We just did a major book purge at home and I decided I ought to at least leaf through it before getting rid of it. Though I didn't find much to like about the narrative, I ended up getting sucked in by all the familiar Hampshire settings and folklore. The noisy music and lack of motivation of the Supreme Dicks certainly reminded me of the gang I hung around with during my first year, 12 years after Rushfield This ended up in my collection because it was sent to the Gazette years ago for a review. We just did a major book purge at home and I decided I ought to at least leaf through it before getting rid of it. Though I didn't find much to like about the narrative, I ended up getting sucked in by all the familiar Hampshire settings and folklore. The noisy music and lack of motivation of the Supreme Dicks certainly reminded me of the gang I hung around with during my first year, 12 years after Rushfield's. Hampshire does attract a certain number of directionless souls who can't handle the freedom of being away from home for the first time; at least by the early 2000s that hadn't changed. To judge by this book, though, the only possible alternative to that type of experience was uptightness and rabid political correctness. Uniformly, the situations portrayed in this memoir feel exaggerated; the characters are no more than caricatures. All but the last three pages of the book are spent describing wacky situations with very little consideration of why they were significant or where they were leading. A disappointing spring break is meant to serve at a turning point but doesn't measure up. Then at the end -- surprise! -- Rushfield straightens out enough to complete a Div III in art history, though he pretends to be as bemused then as he was at the beginning of his studies. What was this book trying to say, exactly?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Day

    Hampshire College, hidden out in the woods of New England, is the liberal answer to any standard-issue southern Christian college and just as frightening. Imagine a place where forming a fraternity is actually considered a subversive act. I read Richard Rushfield's memoir of this college in the last half of the 1980s with equal parts humor and horror. Like some kind of gleeful imp, Rushfield set out to push the boundaries of the college's "It's all good" philosophy and in so doing, exposes them Hampshire College, hidden out in the woods of New England, is the liberal answer to any standard-issue southern Christian college and just as frightening. Imagine a place where forming a fraternity is actually considered a subversive act. I read Richard Rushfield's memoir of this college in the last half of the 1980s with equal parts humor and horror. Like some kind of gleeful imp, Rushfield set out to push the boundaries of the college's "It's all good" philosophy and in so doing, exposes them for the rigid traditionalists they really are down deep. (Don't you DARE ring the ceremonial bell before it's allowed). I wondered just how much of the sanctimonious nature of the student body was real and how much was authorial exaggeration/interpretation and then I came to Goodreads and read the review of this book by Paxton Lee. I now believe it was all true. And that terrifies me.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Gallaway

    This is a great book for anyone who tried to navigate the strange waters of 1980s college life (or for anyone interested in the same), where a kind of surreal 'political correctness' on many liberal-arts campuses reflected the equally surreal rise of Reagan conservatism in the country at large, and led to a kind of nightmarish disassociation of students who didn't really feel comfortable in either camp. (And resulted in some interesting artistic/musical gestures that could loosely be seen as fal This is a great book for anyone who tried to navigate the strange waters of 1980s college life (or for anyone interested in the same), where a kind of surreal 'political correctness' on many liberal-arts campuses reflected the equally surreal rise of Reagan conservatism in the country at large, and led to a kind of nightmarish disassociation of students who didn't really feel comfortable in either camp. (And resulted in some interesting artistic/musical gestures that could loosely be seen as falling into the 'post-hardcore' scene best known for eventually paving the way to grunge, etc.) Heartfelt storytelling combined with many LOLs make for a fast read that feels like a walk down memory lane but without any cloying nostalgia. I think it's just being published in paperback, so if you missed it the first time around, now's a good time to revisit!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pearl

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Sounded very intriguing and relatable for anyone who's gone to college: those first tastes of freedom, bonding with new and lifelong friends, discovering who you really are. But then Richard Rushfield decides to turn this memoir into one long stoner fest. The junkies that he hangs out with don't do much but lie around and talk about doing things. Seriously, an entire chapter is devoted to whether or not they should go to Denny's. No matter how "funny" their inertia or immaturity were supposed to Sounded very intriguing and relatable for anyone who's gone to college: those first tastes of freedom, bonding with new and lifelong friends, discovering who you really are. But then Richard Rushfield decides to turn this memoir into one long stoner fest. The junkies that he hangs out with don't do much but lie around and talk about doing things. Seriously, an entire chapter is devoted to whether or not they should go to Denny's. No matter how "funny" their inertia or immaturity were supposed to be, I just kept waiting for them to get expelled. What could've been a very wild ride through this alternative, experimental, nearly restrictionless college of the 80s doesn't get beyond a few pranks gone wrong. It's nothing you haven't heard of before.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    I really thought I had reviewed this, but apparently not. I liked this book because I went to Hampshire College - which is a flimsy reason to like something, but there it is. I recognized and appreciated the mood & setting, it made me both homesick for the place and homesick for a time in my life. I would have to say that this is probably not the best written memoir I've ever read (pacing is awful) and I'm not sure that it would make sense if you don't understand Hampshire - but since I do, I ha I really thought I had reviewed this, but apparently not. I liked this book because I went to Hampshire College - which is a flimsy reason to like something, but there it is. I recognized and appreciated the mood & setting, it made me both homesick for the place and homesick for a time in my life. I would have to say that this is probably not the best written memoir I've ever read (pacing is awful) and I'm not sure that it would make sense if you don't understand Hampshire - but since I do, I have no idea whether the descriptions would make sense to anyone else. I can't really explain any more about how I do or do not relate to this book because my mom reads these reviews.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Read 84 pages and stopped. Rare for me, but I was just hating it: I kept thinking "it wasn't like that!" although maybe it was when he was there. I hope that sometime between page 84 and the end of the book, the author transforms from clueless slacker to creative and responsible human being (redemption! narrative arc!), but I was not compelled to find out for myself. Maybe I'll come back to it another time, but most likely not; I had my own experience at Hampshire, and there are too many wonderf Read 84 pages and stopped. Rare for me, but I was just hating it: I kept thinking "it wasn't like that!" although maybe it was when he was there. I hope that sometime between page 84 and the end of the book, the author transforms from clueless slacker to creative and responsible human being (redemption! narrative arc!), but I was not compelled to find out for myself. Maybe I'll come back to it another time, but most likely not; I had my own experience at Hampshire, and there are too many wonderful other books out there to read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Extremely entertaining but not exactly transcendent. Definitely a good read for anyone who attended a small liberal arts college and lived to tell the tale. While the Hampshire experience seems a little more extreme (and implausible) than my own as presented in this book, I definitely could relate to the various factions of students who claimed open-mindedness but frequently clashed with each other.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jen Hartley

    I wanted to read this because one of my friends is in the book, so it did help me understand a bit where she was coming from. Overall, though, I wasn't crazy about the book. It did capture a certain tone/spirit that I know all too well, and brought up angst-ridden memories of my teens and twenties that I didn't especially want brought up. Maybe someone who experienced less angst in the '80s might enjoy this book more. I wanted to read this because one of my friends is in the book, so it did help me understand a bit where she was coming from. Overall, though, I wasn't crazy about the book. It did capture a certain tone/spirit that I know all too well, and brought up angst-ridden memories of my teens and twenties that I didn't especially want brought up. Maybe someone who experienced less angst in the '80s might enjoy this book more.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I really enjoyed the book about a guy who started college the same year I did: 1986. While liberal, make-up-your-own-education Hampshire College is very different from the traditional, state school that I went to, he captures the "feeling" of that era very well. It made me nostalgic for some of the funnest years of my life. I really enjoyed the book about a guy who started college the same year I did: 1986. While liberal, make-up-your-own-education Hampshire College is very different from the traditional, state school that I went to, he captures the "feeling" of that era very well. It made me nostalgic for some of the funnest years of my life.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Loaned to me by a neighbor so I read it. Geez. The blurbs on the jacket say it is supposed to be funny but I found it not so funny at all. Kind of painful to read about the authors first years of college. I guess we all did our own version of being lost in those late adolescent years but crikey.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    the Mishima of Melancholy, Rushfield has cultivated a wonderfully insulting comedy of manners under the leaden skies of Northhampton Oblast during the addled eighties. This unbildungsroman really brought me back, unwillingly, to a time when mind could fool the body that it was having fun. I can't wait for the uplifting sequel, Guerrilla Acapella. the Mishima of Melancholy, Rushfield has cultivated a wonderfully insulting comedy of manners under the leaden skies of Northhampton Oblast during the addled eighties. This unbildungsroman really brought me back, unwillingly, to a time when mind could fool the body that it was having fun. I can't wait for the uplifting sequel, Guerrilla Acapella.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    This would have probably gotten 3 stars if I were a guy - could've related a bit more. That being said, the music references and humour definitely made it an entertaining read. The demographic would definitely be the 30+ up crowd. This would have probably gotten 3 stars if I were a guy - could've related a bit more. That being said, the music references and humour definitely made it an entertaining read. The demographic would definitely be the 30+ up crowd.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Emily

    If you attended Hampshire or spent any quality time there, you need to read this book. Otherwise, skip the damn thing. It reads a little bit like a justification of being a spoiled asshole, but if you know Hampshire at all, this spoiled asshole is a strangely fond memory.

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