SLC's own 'whodunnit' caper plays literary leap frog

Mary Katherine Michiels-Kibler

Mary Katherine Michiels-Kibler

“Colleges are filled with insecurities–social, sexual, intellectual…and then there are the students,” reads the cover of Naked Came the Post-Postmodernist: a mystery novel written by thirteen Sarah Lawrence students in one of last year’s writing classes taught by professor Melvin Bukiet.

This amusing mystery is set on the fictional campus of Underhill College, a small liberal arts college that feels vaguely familiar. With roommate relationships, overheard dining hall conversations, and campus social life, Naked Came the Post-Postmodernist is a thoroughly relatable read for any college student. Amid these typical college occurrences are mysterious murders, a teacher student affair, and a whole bunch of praying mantises.

The book was written using a type of “literary leap frog,” where one student would write a chapter, everyone would critique it, and then it would be passed off to another student to write the next chapter. A technique that was inspired by the 1969 novel, Naked Came the Stranger and the 1996 novel, Naked Came the Manatee both of which were written in the same technique of round-robin authorship.

After reading these novels, Professor Bukiet thought, “My students can do that” last summer, he sold the book to Arcade Publishing based only on the first three words of the title. Naked came the…

Naked Came the Post-Post Modernist is a one-of-a-kind novel that could not have been accomplished at just any college, “It simply requires a year-long class, so structurally I think even if another school wanted to do it they probably couldn’t. I think it’s a bit of a testament to Sarah Lawrence students, even if another school said, ‘okay were going to have a year long class in order to do this’ they would fall on their face. I like my students,” Bukiet said.

Not just a testament of Sarah Lawrence student’s creativity but also to the guidance of professor Melvin Bukiet, “Melvin guided us in this project the same way he runs every writing workshop: with cutting sarcasm and literary acumen. His job is to ask the right questions and to make fun when we get to serious,” said one of the authors, David Colbert '13. The light-hearted atmosphere of the classroom is evident in the book as you find yourself smiling at the subtle humor of a prospective student tour gone wrong, outlandish student projects, and countless moments of witty dialogue sprinkled throughout.

The authors decided to donate the advance for the book to Sarah Lawrence College as well as a number of copies of the book. Bukiet had hoped for it to be a gift to the school that would show off Sarah Lawrence’s writing program.

The real mystery is why such a feat, one that has been recognized by the New York Times calling it “A whodunit committed by a whole classroom,” is nowhere to be found on our campus. With no copies at the campus bookstore or in the library it doesn’t seem to be an accomplishment the school is eager to show off. It is however available on amazon.com in both hard cover and as an audio book. 

by Mary Katherine Michiels-Kibler
mmichiels@gm.slc.edu

 

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The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.