I am Charlotte Simmons

ISBN: 0312424442
ISBN 13: 9780312424442
By: Tom Wolfe

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Reader's Thoughts


I came to I Am Charlotte Simmons with trepidation. I had read the reviews that likened Wolfe to a voyeur and questioned his motivation in spending years "observing" typical college students fifty years his junior. It seemed creepy. But when I saw it in the bargain bin, I couldn't resist, and as it turned out, I couldn't put the thing down. Wolfe is a great writer and storyteller, and although there are some weird things about the book, like his linguistic obsessions over current uses of profanity, he presents a compelling story and a fascinating character in Charlotte. Charlotte, a brilliant student from the impoverished, rural North Carolina, earns a scholarship to the prestigious Dupont University, and dreams of intellectual stimulation unlike she has ever known. Instead, she finds a world of wealth, privilege, and debauchery. Although she wants to play the games of sexual intrigue of her classmates, she has none of the requisite accompanying hardness and cynicism, so her efforts are personally devastating. Wolfe deftly tackles big themes--purity, vanity, greed, social class. He may have gotten some of the details wrong, and if you are currently a college student I'm sure you will find much with which to quarrel, but the bigger story is superb.

Kristin Clifford

** spoiler alert ** Well ... I had never read any Tom Wolfe before. I had read and heard several things about this book - namely, how Wolfe researched by exploring college culture, attending parties and interviewing students and such. The resulting fiction is a paltry attempt at immersion journalism at best. I know, I know, Wolfe wasn't trying to tell a true story (and naturally, no one compares to my journalistic hero Leon Dash) but instead write a fictional piece exploring the seamier side of collegiate life at an upper-crust University. At least, I think that's what he was trying to do. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the book. In fact, it was very readable and pretty entertaining. I think it just fell far short of what Mr. Wolfe feels (or hopes) he accomplished. You can just tell by reading the book that it was written by someone who ALMOST but doesn't quite, get it. It has that outsider's perspective, but not in the loner, misunderstood sense. I'm not sure exactly how to put this but I hope this makes it clear what I am trying to say. It feels like the book was written by someone who has no idea what they are talking about, yet feels they have completely mastered the topic. Wolfe overuses tools like slang, pop culture references, etc. to try and make it seem like he really knows what he's talking about. It's like that nerdy kid who desperately tries to seem cool by doing things like liking really obscure music, or quoting the Simpson's ad nauseum, or constantly talking about their drinking habits and crazy drunken adventures. You knew that kid in college. We all did.Anyhow, the protagonist, the titular Charlotte Simmons, is an outsider, so Wolfe's strategy does work to an extent. But she is a strangely implausible character at times, as are some of the others. And not implausible in the way that all people are, more like implausible as in some of the characters do things that are directly contradictory to their intial presentation (I am thinking of Laurie, Charlotte's best friend, in particular). Charlotte leads a life of near-constant mortification. Her embarassment, at least as written, is so intense at all times that it must be simply exhausting. It left me wondering how, in this perpetually self-conscious state, she managed to both be a genius, and have an extremely high level of confidence in both her intellect and physical appearance. This self-confidence seemed at complete odds with her extreme, even desperate desire to fit in. It was strange also, that she felt superior to everyone yet wanted to be their leader. I suppose this is not unusual, in fact it's almost cliched. But it's still strange, to me at least. The characters are poorly developed. There are actually too many characters in my opinion. They all revolve around each other and interact, but some in only the most fleeting of ways. And (THIS MIGHT RUIN IT IF YOU HAVEN'T READ IT) some who are introduced as being very influential in Charlotte's life are referenced only briefly again, and conflicts are never resolved.In short, the characters, even Charlotte, are shallow. We are given the gist of what it is that Charlotte desires, and even a glimpse into her inner turmoil, but it is still unclear to me WHY she wants the things she wants, and why she seems to have two personalities - one which wants to be intellectual, one which wants to be "cool". She grows angry whenever she is recognized as one or the other, though - when around cool people she wants them to know how smart she is and vice-versa. She doesn't seem to find a way to let these two aspects of herself co-exist. Which I suppose is very typical of a college freshman. However, the resolution of the book was unsatisfying. Basically what I came away with - Smart people do stupid things, too. Duh. Overall, it was intriguing and kept me entertained on the plane

Chad Wemyss

"I am Tom Wolfe... " and therefore I can write whatever I want. And people will still buy my over-long, thinly-developed, poorly-constructed tirade against 'kids these days.'It's called a stereotype, Tom. You should probably avoid making all your characters painfully simple cardboard cutouts of actual people. And I'm pretty sure I've seen all of these before, in EVERY movie and book about "college" ever produced.To inventory: - The main protagonist, the archetypical smart girl who's better looking than she realizes. - The big dumb jock who's smarter than he realizes - The beautiful-but-evil roommate - The nerdy reporter for the school paper - The obnoxious, privileged frat boy - And a whole host of minor supporting characters... as the secretary from Ferris Bueller put it, a cast of "sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, and d!ckheads." Along with rednecks, the new england rich, and a smattering of other cellophane-thin stereotypes.This book isn't quite satire, it isn't quite commentary, isn't remotely insightful, but it is awfully long. It has that going for it.


Here's the thing. I really like Tom Wolfe's books. Right up until his editor calls him and says, "Tom, I gotta have that final draft by the first of the month," and he writes some crap ending that just ruins the whole thing. Same thing with "A Man in Full". Frustrating.

La Petite Américaine

Sigh.771 pages. Talking about college. How college is shocking for sheltered girls. How college (shocker) isn't really about academia, but sports, beer, sex, and pretty much everything that the university brochures lie about in order to protect their reputations and continue charging $30,000 a year for an "education." This could be written by ANYONE, and in less than HALF the pages.When a book is bad, and too long, there is a certain point in reading the same shit over and over when your mind just screams SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!. This happened to me about half way through when I got sick of even the most random characters who appear only once in the story, having their entire family histories mapped out for the reader since the 1800's. Filler? Some sort of psychological explanation of the character? NO. BORING. EDITOR?? WHERE ARE YOU!? CUT THIS SHIT. Also, we don't need every single regional accent spelled out for us. Charlotte is from the South. We don't need to be reminded after the says "get" that she pronounces it "git." We don't need to be told that a dude from Brooklyn says "what do you want?" and then have it rewritten again after the quote as "whaddaya want?". Fuck me. If that wasn't enough, can we stop this shit of "shooting looks that are as if to say...."? He shot her a look as if to say fuck you, she shot him a look as if to say I hate you, etc. UGH. Granted, this book did get the Bad Sex Award in 2003. But since it doesn't even happen until page 2394875485723847, it's not just BAD, it's boring. How anyone managed to FIND this bad sex without skimming over it or simply falling asleep is completely beyond me. I'm shocked that this didn't get the Bad Book Award of 2003. If you want a good, engaging, and true-to-life story about a fish out of water in her academic environment, read Curtis Sittenfeld’s novel Prep. Use I am Charlotte Simmons only for expensive toilet paper or to stop a bullet. Sucked.


I got so much enjoyment out of this book. If you attempt to read it as an actual piece of literature (or, God forbid, actually purchase it) you will be incredibly insulted and possibly enraged. I wouldn't even deign to call these characters stereotypes because I think that would be giving them more credit than they rightly deserve. And if you read it as the desperate attempt of an aging writer to remain relevant, it might just make you sad (unless you are already enraged/insulted in which case feelings of hatred may render you unable to feel pity). This is the literary equivalent of Crossroads with Britney Spears. Instead, read it to revel in the hilariously awful (oh sorry, Mr. Wolfe, I meant "well-researched") writing. Especially enjoy the abundant use of the phrase "mons pubis." Seriously.


I don't post a lot of reviews, but all through my read of "I Am Charlotte Simmons" I knew I wanted to say something.I had the book sitting in my towering TBR pile for years, picked it up several times before, and never made it past the first 50 or so pages. I have unfair expectations for Tom Wolfe; I assumed that as with all of his other books "Charlotte" would suck me inside the author's head the moment I started reading. It did not. I finally decided it was time to donate the book or read the darn thing through, and so I soldiered on. Turned out, this is as engrossing a read as Wolfe's other books after the first 100 pages. So...only 3 stars? Well, yes. At the end of the day I was surprised at how little Wolfe understood the people he wrote about or the world they live in. Worse, there was not a single vaguely appealing charcter to be found. The best that could be said about any is that they were, at times, pathetic. Satire doesn't work without a single relatable character, and as reportage or editorial this simply fails.I was scanning reviews on another site, and one of the positive reviews started with "you have to love Charlotte." Perhaps that is true, but I can't imagine anyone loving Charlotte in the least. She is an insufferable utterly humorless prig, who clearly believes understanding anything about popular culture is beneath her notice and that made her destruction satisfying. Given the general availability of things like television and the internet in the time covered here (even in the South Mr. Wolfe!) she would need to make a choice to be so utterly naive upon her arrival at college. And even assuming she was raised Amish or in some sort of anti-technology cult (which does not appear to be the case) she should have been able to catch up a bit when she reached civilization. Yet she has no interest in learning or adapting, simply in judging (herself and others) and wondering why everyone else is so awful. When lonliness or awkwardness finally knocks at her door rather than learning (her intellect is purported to be exceptional, and all things can be learned) she chooses magical thinking and abdandonment of self over simple observation and thoughtful modification. In our protaganist I wanted to find Alice, or Gulliver, or Hank Morgan. What I got was an sour combination of Cotton Mather, Gladys Kravitz and Fanny Price. She is not believable, she is not likable, she is not relatable. I suspect she is Tom Wolfe -- I hope not, but if so count him on my list of people with whom I never want to hang out.Things don't really improve when one moves on from looking at just Charlotte. I am not of the generation portrayed here. I received my undergradute degree in 1984 and completed my graduate work in 1989 so it has been over 20 years since I lived on campus. The endless drinking, the random sex, the confusion between sophistication and ennui, the anti-intellectual zeitgest -- that is EXACTLY what college was like in 1980. Actually, forget 1980 -- it could be 1960. This is like "Animal House," with Doug Niedermeyer in drag front and center. Actually, make that 1950 since I imagine these charcters would work as a prequel to the wonderful "Bonfire of the Vanities". ("Kindling the Bonfire: The College Years!.") Maybe I am lowbrow, but I'll take Blutarsky over Niedermeyer any day. Both are going to hell, but only one is making the trip fun. If Mr. Wolfe was interested in focusing a lens on the milleniul generation, he needed some much fresher research and keener observations.I don't really know how to wrap this up: I enjoyed reading the book, perhaps in part because I found so much of it objectionable, and in part because dude knows his prose. As social commentary, or allegory though, it failed spectacularly.


** spoiler alert ** So, I spent Thanksgiving laid up with a nasty cold and nothing to do but read and sleep. I decided to give Charlotte Simmons a go as a break from my recent spate of non-fiction.With every passing minute, I find myself disliking this book more and more. In fact, I'm starting to hate it! I can't tell if my ire is directed at Wolfe's ability to cram a 20 page short story into 700, the book's hasty and entirely unsatisfying ending, the shallow/unbelievable characters who elicit no sympathy/empathy/cheering for their victory or defeat, the relentless repetition of certain phrases (i.e., downlighters, ruturtrut and pelvic saddle), his less-than-clever rap lyrics (M.C. Wolfe also failed miserably as a rap lyricist in 'A Man In Full'...give it up, old man!), the constant need to describe the same things over and over (we knew JoJo was 6-10 about 400 pages ago, Tom), the flat, pseudo-clever wordplay, e.g. the Bitsosushi car. It's funny cuz it's Japanese! Hyuk hyuk...I think people think they're getting some really biting satire when Tom Wolfe decides to tackle another decade's zeitgeist. 'Charlotte' isn't satire. It's not even remotely funny and its characters are uninteresting stereotypes completely familiar to anyone who's seen a John Hughes film. Instead, it's a rather creepy look at how an elderly man looks at issues like the sexuality of people 50 years his junior. Seriously, the 50 page lead up to Charlotte's rape/deflowering at the frat formal was gratuitous and rather unsettling - especially so when picturing Wolfe (who dedicated this book to his college-aged daughters, no less!) sitting in his Manhattan apartment in his white suit, late at night, writing about an 18 year old girl losing her virginity...from her point of view. If I wasn't so sick, I'd have taken a long shower after that passage.'Charlotte Simmons' doesn't even fall into the category of social commentary. Wolfe attacks obvious targets with no new insight. Far out! The jock has a brain! The well-intentioned geek has a devious side.It must be said that I did not go to a big college with big time athletics. But I know this much, if ANYONE came up with a chant as dumb as "Go go, Jojo!" at one of our basketball games, they would have certainly been dealt with harshly and expeditiously.Maybe for the '10s, an 80 year old Wolfe can take on the scandalous world of Montessori schools!This book sucked!


I like this book, though it's really looooong. Some paragraphs go on for a page or two. But once you get into it, the sentences flow and take you to unexpected nuggets of satiric humor and ironic wit. Of course, the dialogue and characterizations are hilarious too.I would not say that one "loves" or "likes" either Charlotte Simmons or the rest of the characters---which are not prerequisites for the overall quality of a novel---but they ring true. As their psycholoy is revealed, their personalities and choices become patently plausible, invevitable really.I'm not sure I "liked" the ending, but again, liking it is neither here nor there in terms of quality. I liked it because it seemed a bit idealized and in someways fulfilling, which is also the reason I didn't like it because thus far, the novel had seemed to follow an inevitable and necessary trajectory so that this "happy ending" of sorts, seems a bit out of place. However, within this ideal situation that the protagonist finds herself in toward the end, reasons for her ultimate choice are hinted at that she herself is barely aware of, and because of this, who she is, what she learns and all that jazz, says a lot about her that clearly demote her from heroine to basically a person one may not like. She has not learned all that much in fact. She is the social animal that is motivated and affected by societal values; she is not above status as defined by not only peers but also by the larger American culture. I wanted Charlotte to "do the right thing," I really did. But given her experiences, the ending makes sense and the ambiguity about who she is and what she's becoming, are really apt, I think. I liked this book for the wry comic turns, the wording and syntax are "ambrosial" (a term used by a character) and the intellect is constantly stimulated. As far as the characters and their ultimate development, it's depressing. And not only because they in effect are "evil" or anything like that, but because they mirror back a litttle (or a lot) of ourselves, especially for those who have travailed the path to Higher Ed. The depression hits because the choices made are done by people like you or I, and their all too human desires, ambitions, and psychology make it hard to judge. You want to identify with a character who is basically good and incapable of corruption because then you can tell yourself you identify with that character. But there are none---Charlotte hardly qualifies as a classic heroine and much less the supporting characters.This is definitely a Naturalistic novel with all of its social animals trapped by forces out of their control. They are all too human and what the novel has to say about our present culture resonates long after you put it down. While reading it, though, the humor and irony and syntactical brilliance are at the fore.


Fuck me. I thought everyone was overreacting and being all tight-assed about this book for some reason, and I know one or two people who like this book, so I thought I'd give it a shot, but holy fuck... This book really is an 80 year old white Southern guy's 700+ page rant about kids these days. Tom Wolfe supposedly did years of research for this book to capture the social reality of college, but I guess he was too busy banging undergrads to really pay attention to what was going on around him because this is completely fucking retarded on every conceivable level. It bears almost no relationship to social reality. Which is a HUGE FUCKING PROBLEM when you make it your stated goal to be our time's Charles Dickens. Look, I get it, he's asking us to step outside the norms to question the norms, but HE GETS THE NORMS WRONG BECAUSE HE'S A FUCKING DULLARD AND APPARENTLY PAID NO ATTENTION TO ANYTHING. So he's asking us, really, either to question NONEXISTENT FUCKING NORMS or to question NORMS WE'VE ALREADY QUESTIONED. if the point of this book is that frat kids suck, dorms are a nightmare, and people do stupid shit, guess what, Tom 'Fuck-You-Look-At-My-Suit' Wolfe? WE FUCKING GET IT. WE DON'T NEED A STUPID FUCKING 700 FUCKING PAGE RANT ABOUT IT, YOU FUCKING IDIOT. YOU. FUCKING. IDIOT. And also, I hate to be one of those guys, but there is NO FUCKING ARTISTRY IN THIS MOTHERFUCKER. I will not accept the dogma of 'show don't tell' and other writing class cliches, but maybe Tom Wolfe should have before writing this piece of fucking shit. Get this, folks: this entire book is Tom Wolfe telling us what's happening and what characters are thinking. The entire book. In other words, he writes LIKE A FUCKING SIX YEAR OLD. FUCK YOU, TOM WOLFE, AND FUCK EVERYONE WHO LIKES THIS BOOK. Lastly, 'fuck patois,' seriously? Fucking seriously? Tom Wolfe, responsible for much excellent journalism, has become a worse novelist than Steph Meyer. Good job. This might be the single worst novel I've ever read.


Any girl who has ever gone through the journey of the small liberal arts big name college will know parts of Charlotte in ways that take them back to times and insecurities that are far better left forgotten. Charlotte, the brain trust of her small town, enters the world of the privledged "it's mine because I'm entitled to it" college student. It should be a coming of age tale, and it is but in the twisted way. Charlotte loses herself and every belief she held to fit in from the first day of her freshman year to the last day of her senior. Her uncooth parents embarass her, and so she pushes them away. She is so insecure that she constantly obsesses about what she wears, what she eats, who she is seen with, how she speaks, and with whom she sleeps. After a few months, it's clear that she has lost her identity entirely. My favorite part about this book is what makes it real - disturbing but true - she doesn't come back around. And I think that's a reality. When we lose ourselves, we don't get that self back, we just create a new one. Maybe that new one mimics many parts of the old self, but the new insecurities prevent it from every returning to the original. If you want a pick me up, this is not the book. However, if you have been in this world and want to appreciate how you made it through and appreciate life on the other side, you won't be disappointed.

Katherine Kelly

This book was like a nemesis for me over the last few weeks I've been reading it. So many times I wanted to just put it down and forget I'd ever seen it, but then when I mentioned it to people I got this reaction like "what? Tom Wolfe? He's the best!" and so my curiosity piqued, I'd pick it back up. Now after careful consideration I have crafted the following critique. Note I have only ever attempted one other Tom Wolfe book (Electric Kool-aid Acid Test) and didn't make it all the way through. But here are my thoughts on Charlotte Simmons as it's own unique piece of work:Writing StyleNow people tell me that Tom Wolfe is this great writer. Reading this book though, I do NOT see it. It reads to me like a young author who is so hell-bent on sounding impressive, and hasn't yet learned how to edit. Some of that could be taste, I definitely enjoy a "show me" versus "tell me" style of writing, but I would argue that this critique is objectively true as well. Here are three key things I disliked about the writing:1. Colloquialism: I honestly don't mind colloquial dialogue in a novel. Done well (Twain) it can be a great device to further seed the reader's imagination with who this character is. Done right. To me, that means consistent. When not done consistently, it can read as a mockery (see points below re:racism.) If you're going to say someone says "dat" instead of "that" then it is unlikely that they also say "it does not" in the same sentence. "Dat's not wot we do, it does not work" - see how that actually doesn't sound anything like what a real person with that colloquial language style would say? It's because the first half is one way and the second half forgets about it. I'd also say, if you're going to write colloquially, do it, don't half do it and then have the narrator fix the other half? Like "'That's riioght, we're with them' they-am." Why not just put 'they-am' in the original quote? Why remind me how bad you are at this?2. Big words for the sake of big words: now, I realize that some of the characters in this novel were big word people. That's fine. Put it in their dialogue. We'll get to this more in the narration section, but big words don't fit when you're in the POV of the "dumb jock" but all of a sudden his thoughts read like a poet laureate wrote them?3. Treating me like an idiot: give your readers some kind of dignity. There was one point where two girls ACTUALLY had a conversation about what sarcasm was and what the different levels were and this went on for 3 pages. Give me a break. I didn't need that, the characters doing it (sorority girls) didn't need that - they were born knowing that. What is this? I physically rolled my eyes during that section it was so bad.NarratorThat last point actually rolls into another big gripe - the narrator. Man. It's like this guy has never read a narrated book before. There are two main types of narrators, the omnipotent narrator (knows all, sees all, is just reporting in third person) and the personal narrator (an actual character, reports in first person)Wolfe chose an omnipotent narrator, in that case you can either leave the narrator completely bland, or you have it reflect the personalities of the characters who's POV you're currently representing. In a multifacet book like this you normally go after #2. What did Wolfe do? a mix of both. The narrator never completely reflected the types of thoughts that would mirror the current character (you would be hard pressed to make me believe that any basketball star would spend THAT amount of time thinking about the slave / master symbology of their lives...) but it also never faded into the background. It was RIDICULOUS to the point of being painful.CharactersThis might be because the characters themselves were so painfully lacking in definition. Wolfe sets this book up like he's going to look at archetypes - right? So at first you're willing to give him some slack to set up these absolutely obviously awful caricatures of people. The dumb jock, the dweeb, the frat boy, the prissy girl, the sorority girl, etc. But then they don't come out...right. And not in a "oh they turn out to be more dimensional" way, but in a "they turn out to be a mishmash of his own thoughts apparently" way. I think this has a lot to do with the bleed-over narrator. He gives Adam-esque thoughts to Jojo and Charlotte-esque thoughts to Hoyt. So it just doesn't work.Sexism / Racism / Homophobia and other illsThis was the most painful of all. You get the sense the author is none of the above, but is so intent on proving that, that it doesn't work? You know? The whole thing with Charlotte LITERALLY LOSING HER MIND over a boy. Come on. I know girls can get a little cray cray but that was over the top. And the actual narrator quotes of how she responded so positively "the way girls do" to Adam asserting himself aggressively. What the ... is that?All the white vs. black player stuff, and the gay rights stuff, all missed the mark. Just poorly done.The EndProbably the only interesting part of the whole book is the end when Charlotte questions herself on whether she ever wanted a "life of the mind" or just to be recognized, at any cost, and where her intelligence got her recognized at home, that wasn't it at Dupont so she went another way. THAT was an interesting thought. Start there, with the almost double cross from the main character and move backwards rewriting the WHOLE thing. It's almost like the plot points could still work, with a little toning down in places, but just needs to be rewritten by a more skilled author. I know that's a hard line to take on someone so beloved but this was my honest opinion that I had before I realized (over the course of reading and hearing from other people commenting on what I was reading) that he was loved at all. If there's another book I should try instead I'm open to hearing it, but for now, I'm a big fat no to this book and this author.


On the topic of hoops fiction (w/ Boice), I decided to bust this dust gathering doorstop out of the bookshelf graveyard.Having read excerpts of this upon publication, I decided to skip two of the three plot lines - those of Charlotte (small-town every girl meets big time state school) and Hoyt (the Reede Seligmann model) for the story of Jojo (white hoops player trying to make good on a squad of aggressive, do-me, Adonis black dudes).I guess not surprisingly Wolfe succeeds greatly in portraying a top-notch D1 hoops program - and the politics that go with it.The only trouble I had with the team he imagines is the clear-cut distinction he makes between the white + black players (almost a sharks v jets rivalry) which I never found to be the case.


This book is...horrible. Something about this novel bothered me the entire time I was reading it. Actually, a lot of somethings bothered me. For one, Wolfe's extreme stereotypical carictures of the characters in this novel are all abrasive and very unrealistic. Secondly, the book is entirely too long--he could have easily cut out at least 200 pages. The excessive length of the book has much to do with the fact that each character makes numerous unncessary very repetitive tirades of their thoughts. After a while I began to try to skim--or even partly skip over some of these such literary occurences, in the novel, because they did nothing but slow the story down. Most importantly, I did not feel any sort of attachement to any character in this novel, furthermore they did more of a job annoying me and repulsing me than anything else.Much of Wolfe's writing in this novel sounds more like someone from the oustide of college life looking in and satirically commenting about all the terrible horrible, immoral things that happen. Wolfe's potrayal of college life is far--very far---off base. He has no idea what he is talking about. I became especially annoyed at Wolfe's attempt to make a mockery of rap music throughout the novel. Wolfe has obviously barely ever listened to rap music and cannot even begin to fathom the diversity, cultural relevance and depth of thought that much of hip-hop music is about.The characters in this book are all very simplistic--in the fact that they have no depth whatsoever. I am an avid reader, and one of the great things about fiction novels is the ability of the author to be able to actually make you feel what the characters feel--to experience their emotions. This book did not do that. In fact, I was mostly annoyed by each and every character, and I did not feel for them at all. They were not layered, they did not seem all that human at all. Rather than being believable, I saw them more as puppets that Wolfe manipulated in a way that he saw fit to portray. Racism, sexism, classism and the like run rapid in between and all around every line of this book--and not in a good way.There is more to college than athletes, fraternities, academics and drug, sex and alcohol. It is true that these things do exist, but certainly not in the way that Wolfe portrays them. There is more to athletes than just sports. There is more to fraternities and the guys who are in them than just sex, parties, drugs and alcohol. There is more to academics than just the extreme outcast geniuses. AND there is more to those geniuses than academics. In simpler terms, Wolfe fails to portray the complexities of college life. The ability for students to exist in between the stereotypes and oustide of them as well.What is probably the worst part of the novel is the main character, Charlotte Simmons. She is entirely too pure and innocent to be believable. She puts herself on a pedestal and instead of feeling compelled by it and her ability to look at herself in such a positive matter is more so annoying and off putting because she places herself above EVERYONE else in the novel and above every bad thing she happens to encounter. No one is too good for EVERYONE. She thinks herself to good to experience the realities of life.Wolfe breaks no barriers here, or makes no achievments--he may in fact have set us back thirty or forty years in writing this novel and releasing it to the public. I surely hope that there are not too many people who take his potrayal of college life--and the students a part of it--as true to life.


A friend once told me that the band Yes amounted to nothing more than musical masturbation.I punched him in the face and choked his neck until he relented and said "Prog rock rules."After reading I Am Charlotte Simmons, I feel bad about treating him that way. Because I see what he meant. I Am Charlotte Simmons amounted to nothing more than literary masturbation. Tom Wolfe seems to have absorbed everything he could about a number of subjects: college life, collegiate speech patterns, namely, "fuck patois," neuroscience, social climbing, and intellectual v. jock v. frat boy behavior. After absorbing said information, he ejaculated it onto 688 pages and called it a novel. I like books that leave an impact on my life. The only thing that changed for me after reading this was that I deleted a certain guy's name from my phone and replaced it with the label "Frat-tastic," so I would never forget he was nothing but a bad caricature of frat boy from a Tom Wolfe novel.

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