I have been trying to get into Julia Scheeres's Jesus Land for the past several days, and, Lord help me (really), I cannot. Now I'm trying Kaavya Viswanathan's How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, and already I am annoyed. It is not enough that the author is a lovely Harvard sophomore currently (perhaps) blowing her six-figure, two-book advance on Scorpion Bowls at the Kong, but she has also fallen victim to the dreaded "fake Harvard" disease, wherein authors are pressured (I assume) by their editors or, more likely, their marketing departments to make their Fictional Harvard read like Imagined Harvard, rather than Real-Life Harvard. Case in point (from the first page, no less):
"By the time we got out of the car and began walking toward the sign that said Byerly Hall: Admissions Office, I was at nineteen. [. . . .] In Harvard Yard, the grass grew a brilliantly bright and fertilized green."
Okay. If you are walking toward a [mythical] sign that says "Byerly Hall," you are not in Harvard Yard. Byerly Hall is in Radcliffe Yard, a short jaunt up Garden Street, and if you go to Harvard, YOU KNOW THIS. Drives me batshit crazy.
Anyway. No more time for ranting; not even more time for reading, alas. Maybe next week I'll have something more interesting to share.