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Fraternity: Stories

Review

Fraternity: Stories

Benjamin Nugent is a critically acclaimed author who has written compelling and novel short story collections. He continues his exploration into the controversial with FRATERNITY.

There is a God, and God is a woman. Or rather, a female university student who has gained notoriety in the Delta Zeta Chi fraternity for certain interactions with the brothers. At this Massachusetts college, we are introduced to God, Nutella, Five-Hour, Oprah and more. We follow the fraternity through rush, parties and daily life in a series of short stories that can be read individually, though they are all intertwined.

"...a creative and fun collection... Nugent has penned a solid narrative that will appeal to those who are interested in fraternity life."

The stories highlight various aspects of Delta Zeta Chi, and readers will be swept into a world of sex, alcohol and sweaty masculinity. Each story is told by a different member of the college town, and their voices are equally fascinating. In fact, one of the pieces seemed so fantastical that it read like an extensive, psychedelic, drug-induced hallucination.

FRATERNITY is a creative and fun collection, but it is not a tell-all or an exposé about rape culture in fraternities. Instead, the book revolves around a “potential, maybe” sexual assault. While it is still a lack of consent, the description of the attack almost discounts the hundreds of cases of blatant and horrendous acts of sexual abuse that happen at fraternity parties.

Nugent could have written in this offhand manner to highlight how fraternities view sexual assault. That would have been a very meta interpretation, as both the details of the incident and the subsequent reaction of the brothers are jarring. If this was his intention, I wish he could have made it more clear for readers.

Hazing and homophobia are also huge problems with fraternities. There is LGBT representation here, and some tension is alluded to, but we are never told how the fraternity handles the coming out of a brother and whether or not they are accepting. In the story about hazing, the brothers bring in a Delta Zeta Chi alumnus who served in the military. They ask him questions to brainstorm ideas for pledge hazing. The answers, which are explained in-depth, are appalling yet fascinating, and I appreciated how Nugent shocks his audience.

While FRATERNITY is not as cutting as I would have liked it to be, Nugent has penned a solid narrative that will appeal to those who are interested in fraternity life.

Reviewed by Alison Lee on July 31, 2020

Fraternity: Stories
by Benjamin Nugent

  • Publication Date: July 7, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Short Stories
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • ISBN-10: 0374158606
  • ISBN-13: 9780374158606