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Guest Post: The Philip Dolly Affair

College Leadership Crisis: The Philip Dolly Affair

By Jann M. Contento & Jeffrey Ross (Rogue Phoenix Press, 2011)

“On the Joys of Co-Authoring and Collaboration”

Jeff:  Jann and I have written several op-eds and quasi-academic articles together over the years. We have been kindred spirits, I suppose, in many respects. I think early on I asked him to help me do some research for an article I was working on about community college purpose. That experience proved successful, and I continued to rely on him for help. Pretty soon, we worked together more collaboratively on a piece—I think it was “Hudson Heroes, Potomac Pundits, and Leadership in America “(Academic Leader, 209)—that more or less cemented our working relationship as writers.

Concerning our current novel, The Philip Dolly Affair—Jann had the original idea to develop the text. I had written a short story, “Call Me Phil”, which was published on Insidehighered.com back in 2008—about a recently “fired” community college president. Jann thought we could take that original story, add characters and plot, and provide an in depth analysis of community college culture – in a satiric manner. We decided we could cover legions of community college issues using fiction as our medium—and give our story an ethnographic or case study-like quality even while providing a comic read.

We share a belief that satire is instructional—and we are united in our belief that it is very difficult to affect change in community college policy and culture within the culture itself. [Change, we sense, is resisted. But this can be said for most of corporate America now—most of us have become good corporate citizens on one level or another]

I suppose I could lay claim to many of the character “sketches” in the book—and Jann did most of the research and work on the Argentina-focused middle section—but the truth is, we were both involved in nearly every page and machination. I looked “in” my computer the other day and found hundreds and hundreds and hundred of novel-related sketches, rewrites, alternate endings— Thank goodness for computers and word processing.

Certainly we are both comfortable with drafting, editing, and revising. [Thanks to some very good advice from our publisher/editor, Christine Young, we were able to re-mix the conclusion and bring a nicely satisfactory closure to a few of the romantic relationships and plot lines]. We are both interested in non-traditional fiction—and like the idea of mixing narrative, poetry, song lyrics, and theatre-like dialogue in the same text.

I think a significant “collaborative” concept we developed together involves the Argentine politically-charged Shadow World which constitutes the middle of The Phil Dolly Affair. During many early morning discussions, we worked out the idea of using a different culture, a different education system, yes even a different historical period, to provide a “foil” for many of the situational events flourishing at 21st century American community colleges. Once this section was orchestrated successfully, we could easily move in the comic denouement of the third section—an absurd Marxist interpretation of Dr. Dolly’s rapid decline.

While community colleges are currently receiving heightened attention, this novel provides a behind-the-scenes analysis of many whispered truths, those simmering but unspoken workplace behaviors, issues, and machinations every worker (Everyman!) will recognize. A humorous and biting read with a clever mix of satire, political intrigue, failed romances, and tragic-comedy, this novel will open your eyes to the truth about community colleges …



The authors will be giving away a novel-companion e-form [PDF] “chapbook” of poetry “voiced” by one of the novel’s characters, Spanish Professor Jack Frost, to one randomly drawn commenter, as well as to the host with the most comments.) and encourage your readers to follow the tour and comment; the more they comment, the better their chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2011/12/virtual-book-tour-philip-dolly-affair.html.



Jann M. Contento has a broad range of experiences in higher education including student affairs administration, athletics, and institutional research. He is currently working in a community college setting and has co-authored several articles on leadership and college culture.

Jeffrey Ross, who resides in Gilbert, Arizona with his wife and son, is a writer, rockabilly musician, and former full-time community college teacher. He has had four “Views” pieces published on InsidehigherEd.com since 2007, has authored and co-authored several op-ed articles on community college identity, purpose, and culture, and has recently had several pieces published on the Cronk News  higher education satire website.

Online Presence and Social Media Links

Face book Info Page


Getting to Know Phil Dolly Blog


Twitter Account @SalinasChick


Jeffrey Ross Creative Efforts  Home Page on Web Eden (Music and More) http://jeffreyross.webeden.co.uk/

Jeffrey Ross Open Salon Blog—other poetry and essays http://open.salon.com/blog/slipdoc/popularity

Categories: Guest Blogs
  1. Jeffrey Ross
    March 5, 2012 at 12:31 am

    Thank you for posting our comments about writing the Philip Dolly Affair novel.

    • rasanaatreya
      March 5, 2012 at 8:19 am

      You’re welcome! Good luck with your book.

  2. March 5, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Thank you for hosting the authors today.

    • rasanaatreya
      March 5, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      You’re welcome!

  3. June 13, 2014 at 6:26 am

    Reblogged this on As the Adjunctiverse Turns.

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