Walter Kirn’s new memoir, Lost in the Meritocracy, recounts one man’s efforts to escape his home state (of Minnesota) and join the ranks of the Eastern Establishment (at Princeton). Regrets? He has a few.
Kirn — who is now a successful novelist and critic — found Princeton to be a bastion of rich-kid snobbery and academic groupthink. But that didn’t stop the author from turning himself into an Ivy League automaton: “The essence of my training was to confuse the approval of my trainers with my own happiness,” Kirn writes. At the end of his journey, Kirn realized that instead of an education, what he’d received was an invitation to join America’s ruling class; decades later, the bad taste still lingers in his mouth.
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