Book Review : Lost in the Meritocracy by Walter Kirn

lost in the meritocracyLost in the Meritocracy by Walter Kirn is quite an interesting book. It chronicles his journey from eager to learn child through elementary school, and then High school and college. Learning the wrong things, like how to drink and take drugs, and how to play the system and his teachers to appear smarter than he actually was. To those who think that’s not possible, well, all I can say is that I’ve know people like that.

The son of an unorthodox father, who moved the family around, got them into Mormonism among other things. This is where he learned to adapt to fit in no matter where he was. Frequently by doing things to appear to others to be what he wanted them to think he was. And lost himself along the way. The central idea of who he is as a person was lost by submerging his identity to get along in school. It’s kind of sad really, since he’s a very intelligent man, who has a gift for figuring people out so he can give them what he thinks they expect from him.

Mr Kirn writes extremely well. He’s witty, cynical yet hopeful by turns. He writes obviously from the heart about all the things he’s been through. Including an encounter with a perverted teacher who molested male and female students alike. And who when caught committed suicide by train. At the man’s funeral, the whole town apparently knew but no one, except for the mother of a female student was willing to break the “Secret”. The feelings at the funeral was one of relief that the problem had finally been solved and a”twisted tortured man had found peace” according to the authors mother. I hope Mr Kirn will continue to write as he has a strong talent for it.

Lost in the Meritocracy by Walter Kirn is highly recommended.

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