Read The Dilettantes by MichaelHingston Online


The Peak: a university student newspaper with a hard-hitting mix of inflammatory editorials, hastily thrown-together comics and reviews, and a news section run the only way self-taught journalists know how—sloppily.Alex and Tracy are two of The Peak's editors, staring down graduation and struggling to keep the paper relevant to an increasingly indifferent student body. ButThe Peak: a university student newspaper with a hard-hitting mix of inflammatory editorials, hastily thrown-together comics and reviews, and a news section run the only way self-taught journalists know how—sloppily.Alex and Tracy are two of The Peak's editors, staring down graduation and struggling to keep the paper relevant to an increasingly indifferent student body. But trouble looms large when a big-money free daily comes to the west-coast campus, threatening to swallow what remains of their readership whole.It’ll take the scoop of a lifetime to save their beloved campus rag. An exposé about the mysterious filmed-on-campus viral video? Some good old-fashioned libel? Or what about that fallen Hollywood star, the one who’s just announced he’s returning to Simon Fraser University to finish his degree?With savage wit, intoxicating energy, and a fine-tuned ear for the absurd, Michael Hingston drags the campus novel, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century....

Title : The Dilettantes
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781554811823
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Dilettantes Reviews

  • Rick (from Another Book Blog)
    2019-01-27 23:48

    Student newspapers are [email protected]#$ing terrible.Honestly, are they anything more than a breeding ground for smug, supposed intellectuals? Does anyone really care what some 19-year-old stranger thinks about Jay-Z’s new album, or that student attendance has gone down 4% and we should really do something about that?The comics are painfully unfunny, the editorials are well intentioned but ultimately useless, and the articles are so laser-focused they apply to only a tenth of the readership.It’s frustrating because they provide an incredible opportunity for young creatives to stretch their muscles and grow into the artists they can be. Student newspapers should allow young writers to take chances, to be weird and inventive and dumb and independent. But instead, they’re relegated to third-hand retellings of whatever Rhianna’s up to, and advertising the campus’s next Top Model competition. Like most news outlets, they’ve been lobotomized by pop culture.It’s sad.Michael Hingston seems to think so too, which is why his book, The Dilettantes, is the absolute shit. It’s charming, incisive, and witty as all hell. It’s a rallying cry.Alex Belmont is the features editor at The Peak, the student newspaper for Simon Fraser University. He’s nearing the end of his senior year and he’s having a crisis of faith. What was it all worth? Where does he go from here? Did he waste his time working at The Peak or was it all building towards something?During this existential crisis the campus is bombarded with the new Metro daily paper. Before Alex can blink The Peak is firing employees and lowering page counts, and before he knows it the paper will be a thing of the past. That is, unless he can organize a cockamamie salvage job and prove to the student body that The Peak has a purpose.First, though, Alex needs to figure out what that is.I’ve been following Michael Hingston for about six months through his columns for the Edmonton Journal (he’s the books columnist there). He’s also one of the better Twitter decisions you’ll ever make. Hingston is a sharp guy, I knew that. I knew he’d write a good book. But did I think he was this sharp, or that the book would be this good? No way. Not yet.For a first book, The Dilettantes is ridiculously well crafted. Hingston writes with absolute confidence. He doesn’t pander or boast, he doesn’t meander or leave anything on the table. He’s purposeful, composed, and smart as a [email protected]#$ing whip.I’m not a person who earmarks pages. When I do, it’s maybe two or three per book. I earmarked 12 pages of The Dilettantes. It’s that perceptive. It seemed like every other page had me cracking a smile or laughing out loud, or nodding, knowingly, as he hit the nail on the head about some ridiculous college experience. I’ve thought about writing a campus novel of my own at some point. Now, I’m not sure I have to. Hingston already wrote it. The prick.Make no mistake, though, this is definitely a “first novel.” Line up an author’s bibliography at the end of their career and you can probably pick out what their first book was. It’s perhaps a little too autobiographical, it’s a bit too observational, there’s not quite enough meat there yet. But don’t get me wrong: this is a good thing. It means that his next book will be even better than this one. When I finished The Dilettantes, one of my first thoughts was, “Wow … I can’t wait to see how good his second book is.” Once Hingston branches out and starts to create, rather than report, the sky is the limit.I believe there’s a Giller nomination is in this guy’s future. Yes, I went there.I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that Michael Hingston has the chance of being my generation’s Douglas Copeland. He’s that astute, he’s that entertaining, he’s that funny, and he’s that relevant. We don’t have the 21st century equivalent of Generation X yet, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Hingston writes it one day.The Dilettantes places its reader right in the middle of the fray. If you haven’t had the university experience yet, or struggle to remember what it was like, close your eyes and just imagine a dozen unique voices all struggling to be heard one on top of the other, all at the same time. This so much of what college is, and The Dilettantes gets that. There are many conversations in the book where no characters are credited for lines of dialogue, it’s just bam-bam-bam, one after the other, line after line, with us having no clue as to who is saying what. It’s all just a jumble of ideas and personalities, rolled into one amorphous organism. The struggle of the university student is finding him or herself amid the chaos.The funny thing about it, though—and Hingston makes a point of this—is that for most people, they really figure shit out as university is coming to a close. We all think we know what college should be. We’ve seen it movies, we hear about it from friends. So when we get there we try to follow in everyone else’s footsteps, we attempt to replicate the experiences of others, which is so far off from what the college experience should be. This is our time to figure out who we are and what we want, and the sad tragedy of the whole experience is that we finally that out just as university life ends.I am such a huge fan of this book. It’s already on my re-read list. It’s short enough (267 pages) and readable enough that a once-a-year rotation isn’t all that ridiculous. The premise is fun, the jokes are a mile a minute (but told with real intelligence), and the cast of characters is loveable enough for the CBC to get a hold of the rights and bastardize it with a terribly-executed TV show.In Canada, that’s when you know you’ve made it.

  • Denise Berube
    2019-02-09 20:31

    This book made me laugh, even out loud at times. Having never been involved in or even read a student newspaper, Michael Hingston's thorough descriptions made this part of the campus life easy to comprehend. Beyond the newspaper, the underlying university life was true to form, from Pub Nights, cramming for exams, to wondering where it is all going to take you in the end, it almost made me feel nostalgic.

  • Ampersand Inc.
    2019-02-11 20:43

    This is a lot of fun; if we had followed the Breakfast Club into university (assuming John Bender had made it in to university), you would have the writers of The Peak. The observations of university life are frighteningly spot-on and incredibly funny.

  • Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
    2019-01-26 23:50

    Also posted at had all sorts of preconceived notions going into The Dilettantes. I thought I wouldn’t relate to it for various reasons, all of which were dumb and easily dismissed once I started reading. I think I was creating an elaborate defence mechanism, so if I didn’t like the book, I could be like “WELL it’s just because of X Y and Z” instead of having to say “I just didn’t like it,” which would be awkward because I will likely see the author at numerous literary events in Edmonton over the next few months. Luckily, I did like the book. A lot.I thought it might be fun (…for me) to talk about all those excuses I came up with before reading the book, and how they were (mostly) overcome.1. It’s about Millennials! Millennial are whiny and self-absorbed! I will strain something from rolling my eyes too much!Depending who you ask, I’m a Gen-Xer by a margin of three months, or a Millennial by a margin of nine. Guess which one I choose to identify with? Yeah, I was only ten when Nevermind was released, but I spent my formative years without a cellphone or high speed internet. But here’s the thing: all “new adults” are whiny and self-absorbed. I mean, Catcher in the Rye, anyone? I wrote horrible poetry in a notebook when I was pretending to study, while these kids were probably posting to their Tumblrs or whatever. Big diff. The generational thing wasn’t an issue at all.2. It’s about kids who actually went to class. And joined things, like newspapers. I hated those people. And also sort of regret I wasn’t one of those people. It’s complicated.I don’t read a lot of campus novels. Maybe part of the reason is my ambivalence about my own university career. I was a great student. I just didn’t care about university, academically or socially. I didn’t make any friends. I certainly didn’t join any clubs. I went to the minimum number of classes I could get away with and didn’t contribute anything more than I had to. My energies, such as they were, were put towards clubbing and boys. This book made me feel at once nostalgic for something I never had, and relieved that I delayed the burden of giving a shit about stuff for a few more years. It also made me stop and evaluate a time in my life that was really difficult for me. When a book can make you do that, well, what more can you ask for?3. It’s going to be about boys and boy things and I don’t want to read about boys right now *foot stomp*I often assume that first novels are at least semi-autobiographical, and it’s an easy assumption to make in this case: Hingston really went to SFU and worked at The Peak, which is actually called The Peak. So I was expecting a male point of view. I wasn’t surprised at all when I met “Alex” and admit I pictured him as the author the whole time. I was pleasantly surprised when I was introduced to Tracy, the female protagonist.Back outside, Tracy lit a cigarette. She wasn’t unattractive, and didn’t consider herself so, but whenever she talked to a girl like Anna, who actually turned heads, Tracy felt herself standing up straighter to compensate…she only ever realized she was doing it afterward, when her lower back began to ache and she felt her spine settle back into it’s familiar slouch. Oh well. Better than sticking my tits out, she thought.So yeah, I like her. I also enjoyed her loser boyfriend, and their horrible break-up - Tracy’s recounting of the “nail in the coffin” conversation is so astonishingly horrible, I had to read it three times to make sure I didn’t imagine what I had just read. But somewhere in the second half of the novel, Tracy just kind of fades away. I’ve talked about this phenomenon in classic books, and while Tracy is not so blatantly just there to move the hero’s story forward, I didn’t really know why she was there, in the end.The first few chapters are divided between Alex and Tracy’s perspectives, but at the end, it’s all Alex. She and Alex have this almost-flirtation thing going on, which goes exactly nowhere. I was cringing at the thought of a big cliched romantic ending, but then when it didn’t happen, I was disappointed. I think I just missed Tracy though. She was a more compelling character to me. That may be because I also spent much time in university smoking and scowling and dating losers, but I really do think she had potential that wasn’t realized.4. It’s a “funny” book and I only like books that make me cry.The Dilettantes did not make me cry, but the humour was so effective I didn’t care. Plus, it is nice to wake up without puffy eyes once in a while.Hingston walks a fine line. The gross-out humour could easily have turned nasty, and the pop culture references could have tipped from sharp satire to boring name-dropping, but they didn’t. I laughed out loud more times than I can remember while reading this novel, often in public. This, from Tracy’s boyfriend Dave, got me in a coffee shop:“Yes. Today is chamomile. It’s a bit of a madhouse up there at the moment, but some truly interesting specimens are emerging. Data that’ll rock Big Lipton to it’s foundations.And then there was the club sign up sheet, which includes such groups as “‘I actually don’t own a TV, so…’” and “Legalize it – You Know What I’m Talking’ ‘Bout.” Maybe I should have looked into joining clubs in university after all.The humour fell flat only in the climactic scene, which went for manic physical comedy, but left me confused as to what the heck was happening. Maybe it’ll make more sense on a reread.5. I won’t get the pop culture references and I will feel old.I know, I sound like I’m 20 years older than the characters in this book instead of five (okay, seven.) I needn’t have worried. Wu-Tang Clan, Alanis Morisette, and Felicity all make appearances. Yes, I suspect these references might be a little ironic and in the case of Alanis, are definitely meant to be retro, but that’s okay.The references to Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje, say it all, as far as I’m concerned. Alex and Tracy dismiss them as boring and old, while I “discovered” both authors this year and fell in love.“Ondaatje,” she said, as if the man’s name were a curse word.“Ah. Say no more.”“Next semester is my CanLit pre-req. I put up a good fight, too, but I couldn’t escape it – or him. So I’m just going to buy up his whole damn catalogue and call it a day.”Alex offered his consolences. “It happens to the best of us,” he said. For a moment he felt like they were a pair of grizzled World War II veterans comparing shrapnel wounds. “What about Atwood? Did you ever have to do her?”“Handmaid’s Tale,” she said. “Twice. You?”“We read Alias Grace in 1st-year. Then later I signed up for a course on Homer – only to find out that the first five weeks would be spent on Atwood’s feminist rewrite thing. I ran away at the first break and never looked back.”They have a point though. We all need a break from Atwood and Ondaatje sometimes, and this is just the thing: hilarious, smart, and surprising.

  • Phil Dwyer
    2019-02-04 02:23

    Won't be to everyone's taste, because the characters are whiny, self-obsessed students with problems so insignificant they make Kim Kardashian seem deep. But that's never been a deterrent to a good writer. Most of Jane Austen's characters (Emma for example) are similarly self-absorbed and entitled. Not that I'm comparing Michael Hingston to Austen.What I liked was the familiarity of the territory. It's been a long time since I was at University but I recognized it all, the faux intellectual posturing, the insecurities, the drinking. This gets four stars because he captures it all so accurately, and excoriates it with a surgeon's eye. Which is (I believe) exactly what he set out to do. We can only judge a book against its goals. It's pointless complaining about the size of the canvas the artist chooses. I believe this book does everything it sets out to do. I enjoyed it, even if some of the characters are terminally annoying.

  • Gisela
    2019-02-10 18:40

    I absolutely loved this book. It's rare that I come across a book that has me laughing (out loud, no less!) in sheer delight at its wittiness, and at its oh-so-hilariously-perfect depiction of campus life and the characters who inhabit it. I felt like I personally had met every one of those characters at some point during my life, and Hingston described the situations in which they found themselves with incredible insight and humour. All in all a great, fun read!

  • Andrew
    2019-02-11 18:27

    I struggled with this one. I wanted to like it much more than I did, and in the end while I did enjoy my time with the book, it's not without its problems. Chief among them, I never at any point wanted to know or get to know any of the characters. They were all of them such special snowflakes, but me being ten-fifteen years removed from university life, I found I had extremely low patience for their antics and idiosyncrasies. But as I said, I really wanted to like this book, and in part I did—mostly because I am from BC, and specifically attended SFU for both my bachelor's and master's degrees. But locational nostalgia aside, my experience at SFU was so dramatically different than what's presented here that it was almost unrecognizable to me. This illustrates far more of an expected, or perhaps stereotypical university experience that I simply couldn't connect to by virtue of being at SFU for visual arts, and finding myself ensconced with a very small group that I came to know intimately over the four years we were together, removed/bubbled from typical university life. That being said, I did still feel pangs of longing for the physical space itself, as Hingston describes it, and I did find that over time my dislike of the characters softened, but not enough to feel for them, and with not enough time at the end to get a sense of how any of them had changed or been changed (it ends rather abruptly for my tastes). In retrospect, it's the character of SFU itself that is at once the heart and focus on this book, with everything else feeling like colour and not the other way around.

  • Dan Herman
    2019-01-26 00:47

    There's too much TV nowadays. Too many movies, too much media to consume for the average person! The completist (a depressingly un-endangered species nowadays) will lament this, because what's the point of doing anything if you can't do everything?But there's a fix! Nowadays, in addition to actual criticism (I saw a thing, and I have a background in these things/can string together two sentences about it), the internet saw the invention and flourishing of the recap, wherein we take the old TV Guide synopsis of any given TV show and expand it into its own novella.But the biggest oddity to me is not the synopsis (or its cousin, the spoiler-laden review/complaint). It's the people who only follow a TV show (or whatever media) via these recaps: The equivalent of Cliff's Note-ing, if Cliff is actually a guy you know who you asked to give you the gist of Romeo and Juliet in the five minutes before class.This brings me to The Dilettantes. The subject matter (college newspaper) intrigued me, because I worked at a college newspaper. I've been to college, I've met lots of collegians, and ... very few of the people the book looked like anyone I've ever met before.And it didn't seem to be the case (as is possible) that these were just types of people I didn't meet. It more seemed like these weren't people at all, but vaguely sketched stereotypes that you might think about when trying to categorize the young people. In essence, the world was populated by someone who never actually met individual students/people, but rather heard about these "millenials" secondhand and tried to describe them: The "recap" version of character development. I think the author may be a millenial (or close to it) himself, but the analogy still stands.As you can image, this injures the book. For a novel that hangs so much on irony (or lack of definition/artful use thereof), at best it was reaching for an arch absurdist take on the modern college experience/person, but came up fumbling and groping inexpertly. And who needs that when there's so much else out there to (not) watch/read?

  • Nicole
    2019-02-09 00:37

    OK, I'll admit that the reason why I'm so partial to this book is because I also went to university in Vancouver not long ago. Therefore reading it was, in some ways, time travel for me. Mr. Hingston hits the nail on the head with the whole undergrad experience, with vivid descriptions of the student poster sales, the ubiquitous green Metro newspapers (which is a real paper, by the way), the normalcy of film shoots on campus, and of course, the student newspaper office. I've heard that there's a good chance this is the first novel ever written about a student newspaper. If that's true, it's a shame because it's a fascinating environment-- you have a group of very intelligent young people who want to be taken seriously, but who sometimes lose sight of the fact that they’re trapped in the bubble of “student” governments and “student” newspapers, insulated from the politics and the Metro dailies of the “real world” and relatively insignificant.In fact, a lot of this novel's humour (and its warmth) comes from this overblown sense of importance and lack of self-awareness. At the end of the day, the rivalry between two newspapers-- one that's pretty much a tabloid and the other written and printed by teenagers-- really isn't an all-out war of ideologies as perceived by the characters. I mean, come on-- the very premise of this novel is hilarious!It’s a fun, quick read that's especially poignant if you’ve ever been a) affiliated with school newspapers, b) a Vancouverite, or c) young and terrified by the prospect of becoming an adult.

  • Kelsey
    2019-02-02 00:33

    I had so much fun reading this book. I happened to attend Simon Fraser University, where the book is set--but so much of the book rang true to my undergrad experiences at other schools. The yearly ritual of the poster sale, for instance. The weird hand-drawn comics I didn't get in the school newspaper. And, maybe most of all, the sense of just starting to finally figure things out once they are coming to a close. Part of what attracted me to The Dilettantes was that it's a classic underdog story, that's also very, very funny.

  • Dallas
    2019-01-28 00:49

    I purchased this book from the author after hearing him give a brilliant talk. I really enjoyed reading this. It perfectly captures the hilarious highs and lows that come with working at a student newspaper and, for me personally, it brought back wonderful memories. I'm looking forward to reading Hingston's next book.

  • Marsha
    2019-02-01 22:46

    Read, enjoyed thoroughly, gave to Aldon.

  • Sylvie
    2019-01-23 18:35

    Easy to read and I'm greatful that the author wrote it. Loved to read that book. Thank you.

  • Amanda Sobierajski
    2019-02-10 20:39

    Have you ever wanted to relive the minutiae of your university student association experiences, through the eyes of sardonic, privileged student editors? This excruciating journey is for you! While the writing was clear I found neither the plot, nor characters, compelling enough to read until the end.

  • Matthew Quann
    2019-02-04 20:49

    I received my copy of "The Dilettantes" from a Goodreads giveaway and I must first compliment the binding of the book! Really an attractive book that is highly comfortable to read (unlike some flimsy paperbacks). A bit of context is necessary for the review. I am in my fourth year of an undergraduate degree at a Canadian university. I found the book immensely entertaining as it examines the life of an undergrad student, and student-lead organizations, in a humorous and relatable manner. The main characters, Alex and Tracy, are two editors on the campus paper "The Peak" which is soon to face its impending demise at the hand of "the Metro." Along the way there are famous fictional canadian celebrities, foolish decisions made by young people and tons of humour to keep you bouncing from page to page. My one complaint with the book would be the lack of a clear plot. Yes, the attempted rescue of the paper as the editors try and get their lives together is a journey all its own, but the novel ends leaving you desiring more closure for the characters. Furthermore, the ending leaves many dangling plot points to the reader's imagination. To say anymore would step into spoiler territory, but I can safely recommend this novel to anyone attending a canadian university, looking for their place on campus (and the world) and those who have become fed up with the standard plug-and-chug nature of the undergraduate degree.

  • Riley Haas
    2019-02-21 23:26

    Every college novel I have ever read is set at a small, liberal arts college in either the US or England. Those novels resonate with us I believe in part because of their idealization of the college/university experience. This novel is set at a (real) commuter school, which is pretty rare, in the genre.If that was the only notable thing about it, though, I think it would just be a unique spin on a tired genre. But this novel is both funny and affecting. And though my own personal experiences were much closer to the idealized liberal arts experience depicted in other college novels, I felt like I could really connect to Alex and his experiences, in spite of personality experiences.It is a pretty great accomplishment to make a commuter school experience resonate in this way and I really enjoyed it.There are a few flaws, as there are with every novel. A few things didn't make sense to me - a couple of lines and the structure was curious - but these are nitpicks. For the most part, this is great stuff and if you like college novels, or you are looking for a college novel that's not set in a typical setting, you should really check this out.

  • George Ilsley
    2019-02-16 19:43

    "Theirs was a generation of secondhand irony." Funny and incisive, this novel is sure to delight anyone who has recently recently wandered across a campus. Those readers who are especially familiar with SFU will be especially thrilled.While Hingston describes some minor characters with deft and telling details, I found the central character, Alex, to have been left a blank slate. And not that likeable. I even re-read the beginning, to see if I had missed the part where he was described. Never did find it. This left a hole in the middle of the canvas, and is strange, because Hingston does have the ability to describe even minor characters with a few vivid details. However, over all, I felt he was more enthusiastic in describing female characters. All we are shown of Alex is his inner landscape, a peculiar (yet typical) admixture of insecurity and arrogance.

  • Busskami
    2019-02-02 00:44

    The book is a well done satire and the author manages to map many characteristics of the Hipster generation. No one wants to be a dilettante, of course. But quite often, although mostly finding the behaviour of the protagonists ridiculous, there are somehow startling moments where one has to admit that Hingston really hits a nerve and shows how much many of us (being between 20 and 30 years old in the 2010s) are part of that generation and therefore show these characteristics, even if we don't want to.

  • Alex
    2019-02-16 22:24

    This was such a fun book to read, and not only because I'm a fellow Peak alumn. It perfectly captures the university experience, and all the characters and eccentricities that go along with it. Mike's an incredibly gifted writer, and there are so many great gems and passages that will stay with me for a long time.

  • Kate
    2019-01-23 18:38

    Saw this on some book list on the CBC website and I'm glad I took the time, it's a fun, and funny, read about a struggling student newspaper at a Canadian university in 2009 and the shenanigans that go along with that and being in the final year of university. Started out strong, could have ended a bit a stronger, but still an enjoyable read.

  • Garry
    2019-02-22 01:39

    Not bad - a campus novel following the tradition of Amis and Davies but perhaps a couple too many cliched characters and not quite enough fully developed ones. However, it was an enjoyable read and thoroughly Canadian.

  • Mary
    2019-02-16 19:39

    Would I have enjoyed this book even if I wasn't an SFU alum who majored in English and knew a bunch of Peakies? HECK YES. But it sure made it even more fun.

  • Steve Goodyear
    2019-02-07 22:27

    One of the things I loved most about this book was the setting -- I got to read with nostalgia remembering my time at SFU and how much I enjoyed life on campus on Burnaby Mountain!

  • Heather
    2019-02-05 01:42

    I really wanted to love this book. The author is funny and has a beautiful way with words - iI often had to pause and reread some of his great phrases. Sadly,the story fell flat for me.

  • James
    2019-01-24 01:39

    An interesting read. As a former Peak hangeron and present SFU alumni, I enjoyed it.