Saturday, November 14, 2009

Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost: Richard Rushfield

Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost is a pitch-perfect story of what happens when a new era swallows an old mentality. Richard Rushfield had the opportunity of experiencing Hampshire College at a time when the 80’s nihilism movement was overcoming the drug-induced era of hippie love.

Rushfield’s memoir is a delightfully structured, well written narrative. Beginning with his pre-enrollment days as a kid without social label, Rushfield discusses the realities of a “hippie school”. In its heyday, Hampshire was a college built on the foundation that learning shouldn’t be structured. The student body was a notoriously drug-addicted clan of mixed social circles, while the staff consisted of free-loving, free-thinking hippies who encouraged students to “try it out” whenever faced with something new.

Through a series of well-timed events, Rushfield falls in with a campus clique known as The Supreme Dicks, who are the most hated people at Hampshire. A group of lackadaisical layabouts, The Supreme Dicks lived by a certain standard of nonchalance. It is in his descriptions of the Supreme Dicks housing that Rushfield’s writing really shines. As I read about the food-encrusted paper plates stuffed between couch cushions, stagnant smoke-filled air, and industrious cockroach population, I could feel a layer of grimy apathy climb over me. Such were his descriptions of dorm life at Hampshire, that I could feel the weight of bitter nihilism.

Having discovered that college was a place where teachers didn’t take a roll call, Rushfield reveled in his freedom by not going to class at all, opting instead to loll about in the dingy quarters of his dorm. With a track record like his, it seems a miracle that Richard Rushfield ever graduated. His memoir is filled with the rollicking adventures of a young man on a college campus where one could do no wrong. The era of hippie love and free thinking had created an atmosphere where all expression was artful and censorship was to be banned. However, in the 1980’s, the hippie movement at Hampshire college faced its first set of campus rules. Class completion became mandatory, and disciplinary action could be taken against students for almost anything. The response was nihilistic, with a student body turned aggressive and determined to hold onto its apathy.

Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost is a meandering narrative, with no moral theme of divine intervention to tie it up neatly. It is a very real—one might even say gritty—story of how complicated it can be to come to terms with responsibility in an atmosphere where apathy rules. Rushfield is a talented writer who brings every scene and emotion to life without trite clichés.


  1. Wow! Sounds interesting! You write perfectly articulated reviews. Really, you are SO good at it!

  2. Thank you so much Pom Pom! Your comments uplift me and encourage me so much!

  3. Wow! I'm sure I read the same book you did... same cover,same author,same stories...but...Ho-hum.
    I agree,though... he didn't use a single trite cliche.

  4. Indeed, the story itself is not a revelation. I find most memoirs are fairly ho-hum. It is Rushfield's writing that saves this book. He makes reading his memoir interesting, where so many others write like technical diarists.