I tried to write something like "Joe College" not too long after graduation: a novel that could capture the humor and inquiry of college life. But I was not then very experienced, nor did I have much distance on the experience, so the result was a mess. Perrotta's far more talented: the voice is genuine, the details telling.
Unfortunately by the end of the book I couldn't tell that Perrotta had any such actual explanations. He had captured a moment... for the sake of capturing it.
I think I'm going to have to go back to assuming that for me college was a rich time, one of learning and growth, one I look back on fondly while seeing ever-increasing areas of missed opportunity. (A lot like many other people, I'm sure.) Not necessarily something that could be "explained" -- or needs to be.
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