The Undergraduates: an aftermath of love

Rated 4.80/5 based on 5 reviews
Shawn sits at the edge of his bed, staring out his third floor window; a married woman is asleep under his covers. He begins to reflect with a mix of nostalgia and despair on this situation, on a recently dissolved relationship, on tomorrow, on yesterday. Cinematic and literary, The Undergraduates brims with truth and immediacy climaxing with a wildly powerful commentary on our urban condition. More

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Words: 79,440
Language: English
ISBN: 9781310413926
About Steven Snell

Steven Snell has a master’s degree in urban design. He's a professional city planner. In his writing he tells stories about cities and people, or perhaps people and their cities. He’s a watcher, a thinker, a feeler, a writer... I watch; I think; I feel; I write. Then I change every word. Strike it all. Hate it all. Hate myself. Hate writing. Wish I was smarter, more creative, a better person. I go for a walk, watch a movie, think about moving to Maui, Madrid, Mexico City. I listen to Sigur Ros or Radiohead or The National or Damien Rice or Red House Painters. I read other novelists, award winners, dejected idiots; I read an adventure story, a love story. I read something about real life: a history of the world; European imperialism through ecological domination; the global arms race. I watch Peter Mansbridge on CBC. I listen to the stories being told; I watch them. I think about these and feel them and like how I feel and think about how I feel and feel more then I scratch a note down, a random thought, or just a word, arrows to connect disparate thoughts, and then I connect them to form a sentence, a paragraph, a story, a novel, a best-seller, a Booker award winner, a Pulitzer and then I hate every.single.word again. Repeat.

Reviews

Review by: tmreid on Feb. 25, 2014 :
My favourite line in the book: "I walk with a map of the wrong city." It is a beautifully poetic line and it is a beautifully poetic book.

The sense of hopelessness is awesome and the journey is worth it.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: rvnc on Feb. 08, 2014 :
I love this Book! The book exposes the reality of sexual relationships, romance and searching for love. I found it brilliant and clear-eye opened. It exposes the truth about our loves and desires with such impeccable writing, full of common sense, humor and extraordinary insight. I am an old fashion person that loves to have a real book in my hands and this novel was perfect for that. I loved it!
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: RichardBlyth on Feb. 08, 2014 :
This is a thinker's book. And it enjoys itself. It also has the greatest volatility in sentence length I have ever encountered from short abrupt sentences to long streams of endless consciousness without even the favour of a comma within them.

So - it’s a thinker’s book:

Alex crosses his right knee over his left and leans against the armrest.
“Do you remember Petrarch?”
I raise my eyebrows. “Who?”
“Did you not pay attention in school at all?”
“Petrarch?”
“The 14th century Italian. He believed in the individual rather than the community of church
supremacy –”
“A faint din resonates.”
“He mashed the Greeks like fashion designers rework the past and claim it as current. …. The humanist movement occurred during the Renaissance, right when fundamental beliefs were being called into question. Like $700 designer jeans with holes in the knee taking a slash at their birth as factory-worker-wear.”

My only quibble is I have never met anyone who actually talks like that – clearly Steve Snell moves in some exalted company.

And it’s funny. One of the funniest characters is Alex. Here he is in full flow:
“Shawn, it’s the 21st Century. There is no plague. You don’t walk miles to harvest water. The
country you live in has a stable government. You’re employed. You have shelter and food and clothing and are kinda pretty and not retarded. You eat healthy, which I find such a bore – would it hurt if you had a burger every once and a fucking while? … The Romans don’t want to crucify you. You still have your foreskin –“

It’s observant – especially appealing to anyone who looks at cities carefully, as Steve Snell clearly does.

A mail box. Stenciled on it in black spray paint a rat with a stick of dynamite. A fragment of beauty on this feeble street. Beside the box a wood electrical pole with a bark of rusted staples. Tacked to it a poster reads, “Junk City” and a date and location to a reading and a paragraph about this city built so as to be thrown away. Vinyl and stucco and laminate and warrantied concrete. Beneath it and beside it and above it are adverts for dated live performances.

Sometimes it combines urbanism with humour:

I stop and raise the camera to my eye, she continues, “This city needs more of this. More streets with trees and street art by street artists and an eclectic mix of housing. More streets where cars are forced to do less than 40.”
“More hot people,” I say with a smile.

If you’re expecting anything to happen in this book you will either be disappointed, or much cleverer than me at rooting it out.

If you want someone to chronicle the city and the hearts that live in it you’ll be most satisfied.

The PDF version is pretty well laced with Microsoft typos – they pass spellcheck muster, but to make sense of them you have to interpolate.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: M Chavez on Jan. 10, 2014 :
Finished! I I just have to say something about how I'm feeling! I absolutely loved reading this book! The author’s writing style is unconventional and reads the way someone’s thoughts would: fluid, continuous and unfiltered.

While the novel is described as a love story (which it is, to a certain extent) it is not a conventional one. The entire novel is centered on Shawn’s life, the main character, as he struggles with understanding and accepting the life he’s created for himself and the one handed to him by social circumstances. His interactions with other characters: his friends Jacob, Alex & Cynthia, his lover Karen and ex-girlfriend Gabriella, allow him to openly address these issues and at times the scenes turn into beautifully crafted chapters of friendly conversation, banter and collective awareness. Without wanting to give too much away, Shawn does realize his short comings, but not in the way(s) you'd expect.

If you haven't had a chance to delve into this novel, do. It's a meaningful read, socially conscious and current in it's understanding of what being an
undergraduate at life means. In short, it's perfect for those of us still trying to sort out what life is and isn't.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: M Chavez on Dec. 30, 2013 :
I’m four chapters into The Undergraduates and it is exactly as described by the author: raw.

In the same way that Shawn, the book’s main character, quietly takes stock of the people, places and things around him and reflects on how he and they got there, you can’t help but relate and place yourself in the scenes that unfold. The novel speaks to a time in our lives where everything resides in the unknown - our relationships, the work we do, the places we live in etc. It takes the universal human feeling of confusion and loss, and examines it through the common stories that shape all our lives. It reads without a filter and is thoroughly enjoyable in its realistic bleakness and truthfulness to life.

I look forward to reading further and continuing to relate to Shawn’s experiences - albeit, some more fondly than others.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

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