Lauren Rabaino

This past year, Slim to None missed the deadline to sign up to lead a discussion group for the incoming freshman novel “Montana 1948.” I was also deemed not “hip” enough and not a grad student. So, I’d like to take some time to discuss the book with you.

During my freshman year the required reading was “The Kite Runner,” so STN is fully prepared to discuss a book that has nothing to do with either Montana or 1948. Much ado about nothing. Not only did Montana make a cameo appearance, the book took place in 1948-ish! C’est la vie!

So let’s review this book in the proper order:

First, judge the book by its cover.

STN recommends that all books to be published from this day forth have covers featuring Rambo holding an American flag and a boomerang with a speech bubble asking, “Where’s my burrito?” Since this did not occur with “Montana 1948,” I will give it no points as of yet.

Don’t panic. Other notable books have come back from failing this category before to win big. For example, “An Introduction to Quantum Mechanics,” “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and “Lord of the Flies” all went on to score big points. However, two books never made it out of their cover crisis: “Catcher in the Rye” and my senior project write-up.

Second, generate a plot synopsis.

Wes has a house servant who the author killed and got away with it. I can’t believe the characters never implicated author Larry Watson. Clearly he’s the man with the motive: money. By the end, Wes has moved to Fargo, North Dakota (not to be confused with South Dakota) where he inevitably changes his name to Jerry Lundegaard and hires two ex-cons to fake kidnap his wife for a ransom of $80,000.

Wait, maybe I was watching the Coen brothers’ “Fargo” while browsing the Wikipedia page dedicated to “Montana 1948” and confused something…

Finally, consider cost.

Does the book cost more than your favorite sandwich? Well, too bad book! Open up, tummy! Here comes a sandwich!

Based on these criteria, STN gives “Montana 1948” a stiff Colorado 1945 out of a possible Georgia 2068.3.

And in conclusion

How does this stack up with previous freshman orientation books?

No one seems to remember what book they were supposed to read last year. STN asked several random sophomores on the street, and no one knew the answer. Only one clue surfaced. Nearly 100 percent of sophomores asked in this extremely quasi-scientific poll remember that there were numerous potatoes involved in the plot. STN has narrowed down all the usual suspects to two: “A Guide to Your Mr. Potatohead” or a AAA road map of Idaho.

The book that was assigned the year before that was “The Lovely Bones,” which I can only assume teaches some necromantic ritual to its readers.

Instead of assigning a book every year, why doesn’t the university just send everyone to see a movie instead? Rated R, “The Wackness” came out this past summer and barely anybody saw it. With a title like that, more people need to see it so they can tell me how it is.

Next Week: STN reviews “Three Cups of Tea” and gives it a hot Earl Grey out of a possible lemon iced tea.

Tom Baker is a Mustang Daily humor columnist and a physics senior. Slim to None appears in the opinion section every Friday. Readers can reach the columnist via email at

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