In advance of the event, he’d received a bonded leather book in which alumni provided updates about their professional and personal lives, and before bed, he’d taken to reading aloud from it in tones of scorn and disbelief. …We didn’t have to go to the reunion, I pointed out once, eliciting a snappish rebuttal: Of course we had to go! What kind of chump skipped Reunions? — From American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld

Reunions long has had an outsized role in fiction. In This Side of Paradise, Amory Blaine gets caught up in this scene: “ ... in the tents there was great reunion under the orange-and-black banners that curled and strained in the wind ... while the classes swept by in a panorama of life.” Outsider Nathaniel Clay attends Reunions in The Final Club, by Geoffrey Wolff ’60. More recently, 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy laments a lost opportunity to impress his friends: “I wish I had a Princeton reunion right now.”

One of the most moving things ever written about Reunions is nonfiction, a 1976 essay by Anne Rivers Siddons s’48: “Reunions Make Me Cry” (read it at She had expected to laugh at the silliness of the P-rade, but was touched to tears when the Old Guard passed by. “It was,” she concludes, “simply a right and good thing to honor something you loved very much as loudly and wholeheartedly as you could.” Her essay made me cry.

Curtis Sittenfeld graduated from Stanford. But she placed an important scene in her book at Princeton Reunions — something she experienced as the daughter and sister of three enthusiastic alumni, Paul Sittenfeld ’69, Josephine Sittenfeld ’02, and P.G. Sittenfeld ’07. And so the author knew to ask a crucial question: What kind of chump skips Reunions, indeed?