Fame & Responsibility at Winford CollegeIn his new novel Fame and Responsibility at Winford College, author John J. W. Rogers draws on his nearly 50 years experience as a geology professor to create a sweeping portrait of life on a college campus. Rogers’ new book uses subtle humor and satire to address a serious issue that is affecting colleges and universities today: the gradual transfer of importance from the student body itself to the image and fame of the college or university. In its 203 pages, Fame and Responsibility at Winford College tracks the slow erosion of a quirky fictional college’s dedication to the lives of its students as football teams, prestige, and money become more important.

Fame and Responsibility starts in the late 1940’s with Randy Miller and Sue MacDonald, a young couple from Prineville, Oregon. As Randy begins his college career at Winford College, he finds that perhaps college isn’t the best route for him, and his advisors agree, telling him that he should go out and get a job doing what he already does best: writing and speaking.  Following the advice given to him, Randy goes on to become a famous orator and politician. His life with his wife Sue is touched on throughout the book, and serves as a grounding point for most of the action.

Using many colorful characters to guide the reader through the story, Fame and Responsibility starts to feel a bit diluted with so many characters and so many time periods being discussed. Perhaps that’s why Rogers includes a character breakdown on the first page of his book, much the way a play includes a listing and description of each character and where they appear in the play. Although the book may be a little top heavy with characters they all serve their purpose in the larger theme of the novel: showing the progression, or digression rather, of the school’s respectability and student body.

Illustrations by Sylvia A. Lauterborn throughout the book help add to the lighthearted satirical tone that Rogers takes. The drawings are deceptively simple, illustrating the characters and their adventures throughout the novel.  Short lyrical poems interspersed through various chapters also serve to remind the reader that this is a fun, and often funny, journey through the lifetime of a college campus. In the end, Winford College itself almost becomes a character. A dysfunctional, confused character, but endearing nonetheless.

Fame and Responsibility is a quick, enjoyable read, as long as readers remember to focus on the broader theme being discussed rather than on the actions of each individual character, which can begin to feel a bit cumbersome. Anyone with extensive experience in a university community will probably relate instantly, while outsiders could take a while to warm up to the story. Rogers has used his 50 years experience in academia to cleverly create a (semi) fictitious world that often takes reality-based situations into a satirical and sometimes downright hilarious realm.

To purchase Fame and Responsibility at Winford College, visit: http://www.amazon.com

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