I am Charlotte Simmons

ISBN: 0312424442
ISBN 13: 9780312424442
By: Tom Wolfe

Check Price Now


Book Club College Contemporary Contemporary Fiction Currently Reading Favorites Fiction Literature Novels To Read

Reader's Thoughts


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.


I picked this up at the big garage sale that my work puts on. It caught my eye and I remember being interested in it after reading a review of it when it came out. It's a pretty thick book, over 750 pages, and I didn't plan on reading it for a while. I read the first few chapters when I got home and got very caught up in it. It is one of those books where once you've start reading it, everything else in your life takes a back seat and you can't do anything else but read the book until you're done. Apparently all of Tom Wolfe's books are like that, though I've only read this one. I'll let the New York Times say it better than I can: "Like everything Wolfe writes, 'I Am Charlotte Simmons' grabs your interest at the outset and saps the desire to do anything else until you finish."The book is basically a critique of the current state of higher education and the university lifestyle. The three main characters are students at a Dupont, a fictional prestigious liberal arts school on the east coast and their lives intersect through various plot threads. The title character, Charlotte, is the fish out of water from a small working-class town in West Virginia. She comes to Dupont full of innocence and ideals and the book is propelled by the story of her inevitable fall from grace and eventual redemption. There is one long extended chapter the book about Charlotte going to the big fraternity formal with her new boyfriend and his friends. Wolfe describes what is happening in real time with great detail (both material and emotional), and the result is an incredible and extremely moving piece of writing. If movies that present prom night as an magical evening where everyone's problems are somehow resolved are a zero on the realism scale, Wolfe's description of Charlotte's experience is an easy 10 .One of the things that Wolfe does really well is observe the motivations behind people's words and actions, analyzing people in much the same way that a biologist would study the behavior of animals. To Tom Wolfe, every human interaction is a struggle for dominance, and he makes his case convincingly enough particularly when applied to the seemingly simple but incredibly complex social codes of the fraternities and sororities. Wolfe does stumble occasionally, getting a bit out of his element, particularly when attempting to recreate the dialogue and slang of the black players on the college basketball team. He creates a rapper called Doctor Dis and writes lyrics for his songs in a few cringe-inducing passages. Still, you've got to give an old white guy credit for an attempt. A large part of Wolfe's critique is about class, and the sense of entitlement that well-heeled and well-educated feel. Wolfe lays it on a little too thick in describing Charlotte's humble background, however, and details like Charlotte's family having to use a picnic table inside because they couldn't afford a dining table seemed forced. One final criticism that I'll make is that I though that the end was too neat and sudden. I expected more of a payoff, though I was satisfied enough (if only just to see Charlotte okay again after everything that Wolfe puts her through).This book got a lot of mixed reviews, and some critics really panned it, seeing it as a one of Wolfe's lesser books. I'm not familiar with his other works and with nothing else to compare it to, I was blown away and completely engrossed. I'd strongly recommend it, though only if you can afford to disappear for a week.


In preparation for his latest book, "I Am Charlotte Simmons," Tom Wolfe did an incredible amount of research and study into the lives and times of college students at some pretty prestigious universities: Duke, Stanford, the Universities of Michigan and Florida. I won't say, like some have, that Wolfe has his details wrong. Reading this concrete block of a book, one gets the impression that it is 98% detail. Some of it over and over again.This is, in fact, the biggest problem, and I found it equally present in The Bonfire of the Vanities. It's all well and good for Wolfe to do a send-up of a specific milieu (and if anything deserves a good send-up, the slovenly troughs of higher education are a good mark), but in his desperation for authenticity, Wolfe has left nothing to chance. Every nuance of a basketball play is elucidated at length. The weight rooms are expounded upon in over-honeyed prose, as is every single muscle group that's being "pumped." The dynamics of drunkeness, social stratification, sexual politics, and even tailgaters are mulled over ad nauseum. Hell, half a dozen pages alone are devoted to the intricacies of college sarcasm (Sarcs 1 through 3) and swearing (the patois of fornication and defecation).If both books are about vanity as a self-defeating prophecy, they are only so in theory. Wolfe's lavish attention to piddling minutae makes one wonder if he's trying to make a point, or if he's simply writing a reference book, taking a cultural snapshot. Either way, he falls short of the mark.As far as plots go, "I Am Charlotte Simmons" has about the same level of complexity as an early 80's ski-trip movie. We have a wet-behind-the-ears girl from the sticks, a beautiful young thing who is as naive as she is smart. In spite of her rustic roots, she excels and is granted admission into the prestigious Dupont University, where frat boys and jocks are gods, catered to by mealy-mouthed study geeks and sex-crazed bimbos.Of course, her ears don't stay wet for long. They are blown dry by the hot wind from puffed-up professors, smug athletes, and sneaky prep kids, who teach Charlotte the rules of college life, which involves designer jeans, becoming a Sexile, and very, very little studying. There are ups and downs, Charlotte loses sight of What Really Matters, and she succumbs in her own way to the gilded garbage of Being Cool. Various other students (Jojo, the Jock With Lofty Aspirations; Adam, the Clueless Brainiac; Hoyt, the Guy With No Redeeming Characteristics Whatsoever) are treated to their own lessons. Whether any of them learns anything, well, you'll have to read the book.Good luck. Wolfe presents the material like its new, but this is Rewarmed Yesterday. Furthermore, although I'll allow his details are correct, Wolfe writes as if these are the only details there are, the only ones that matter. It's a shame that, given his status and opportunities, Wolfe didn't delve deeper into the subcultures of school. I'm not sure why. Instead of thirty pages devoted to diagnosing the symptoms of depression in college girls, or fifty explaining the delicate mechanism of race relations between white and black basketball players, or countless pages dedicated to examining the bloated egos of the overpriviledged male, Wolfe could've spent his time on something, well, unique, captivating, or worthwhile.Instead, there's "I Am Charlotte Simmons," an overlong story of underfed idealism, and a long, dry-eyed stare at the parts of college life that desperately want to be stared at the most. I'm not saying you won't get anything out of "I Am Charlotte Simmons," but I am saying it's not anything you won't also find in a timelier, perhaps more entertaining capacity in movies like PCU, Better Off Dead, or Girls Gone Wild: College Girls Exposed.


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.


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.


I Am Charlotte Simmons was published in 2004, which was the year in which I matriculated at my alma mater. I guess that makes Charlotte and I the same age (except that Charlotte is, obviously, a shadowy, fictional stereotype of someone my age and, thus, not real). Charlotte Simmons is a sheltered, smart girl from a small town in the mountains of North Carolina, who ends up at a top university and is shocked by what she sees there. I was also a sheltered smart girl from a small town in the mountains (of Southern California. In case you were unaware, California is also overrun with idiotic Republican whack job Jesus freaks, at least once you get away from the coast and into the shit-hole provincial towns. They're probably spouting nonsense about the glories of gun-ownership via semi-literate Facebook posts as we speak).All this is to say that Charlotte and I are both girls from small towns who got into prestigious universities, only to find that they didn't fit the Elysian vision of intellectual nirvana we had created for ourselves when we imagined what college would be like. The main difference between us is that, while I was disappointed, I didn't find this particularly surprising.But wait, you may say, it's unfair for you, as a reader, to hate on a book because it doesn't mirror your own experiences! And this is true, to a point, except that Wolfe wrote a book rife with inaccuracies about what life was like for college students in 2004. This paragraph serves as a running inventory of specific things Tom Wolfe got wrong: Charlotte's roommate brings a fax machine with her, and sets it up in her dorm room (??). Wolfe describes cell phones as if they're super fancy gadgets possessed only by the elite. A fraternity brother asks to borrow porn videos from the other brothers, instead of searching for porn on the internet like a normal human being. Wolfe forgets that we're a bit too young for Animal House and Swingers to be the defining films our youth (although he is correct in assuming that we all watched Old School). I'm pretty sure we're not the first generation to forgo last names when introducing ourselves. Rap and reggae were not the only genres people listened to (I mean, isn't Belle and Sebastain one of the prototypical college bands? Also, reggae has always been pretty niche). Britney Spears peaked when Oops…I did it Again came out in 2000. The Stairmaster may have been big in 80's, but young women have been partial to the elliptical since at least the early 2000's. No cool girl would willingly call herself a "douche" (or a trekkie, for that matter). To be fair, Wolfe got a few things right. Often, my classmates would proffer answers in class that were so idiotic, I couldn't help but wonder how they had gotten into the university in the first place. Athletes really are treated like gods, even at schools with fairly middling athletic programs. Also, we played a ton of drinking games.Nevertheless, the millennial cultural narrative doesn't align with Wolfe's story of an edenic fall into a tawdry, quasi-intellectual underbelly populated by hormone-crazed sex drones. In reality, we went to college, like our parents before us, we studied, we graduated, we attempted to obtain gainful employment. Things would be a lot easier if previous generations hadn't managed to screw up both the economy and the environment, but that's a different story. With Charlotte Simmons, it seems to me that Tom is not so much a prescient social commentator as he is a self-indulgent writer who cried wolf.The main problem with I Am Charlotte Simmons is that that Wolfe fails to satirize the (very real) issues of entitlement and lack of racial and economic diversity on prestigious college campuses. Instead, he adds his voice to the cyclical, and ultimately untenable, diatribe against "kids these days," forgetting that we've been there before, and the overhyped prognostications about the end of polite society have consistently proved to be, shockingly, anticlimactic. Two stars: one, because the writing is remarkable (this is Tom Wolfe, after all. Dude knows how to write). Two, because there's a great description of the horror that is the fast-casual dining experience.


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.

Ron Charles

Halfway through Tom Wolfe's enormous new novel about contemporary college life, I finally devised a question to keep my interest piqued: "Is it humanly possible," I wondered, "to write another 100 pages - another 200 pages, another 300 pages - without describing a single surprising event?"It is.With "I Am Charlotte Simmons," Wolfe has ventured onto the university campus and sent back reams of hyperventilating testimony: College students are slovenly and crude. They drink way too much. They listen to obscene music. They engage in casual and exploitative sex. They put their feet on the furniture - even leather sofas and fine woodwork.But wait, there's more: College students would rather socialize than study. It's all right here, spelled out in tones of amazement, like George H.W. Bush telling us about those new scanners at the grocery store.If you haven't seen "Animal House" or anything on the WB, you'll be surprised to learn that collegiate society is divided between "jocks" and "nerds." The jocks are very athletic, but not very smart, whereas the nerds are very smart, but not very athletic.Am I going too fast?To write this novel, Wolfe claims that he "had only to reassemble the material he had accumulated visiting campuses across the country," a technique that may explain the book's superficiality. This isn't the anthropology of the Ordinary - a potentially revelatory approach; it's just a dramatization of clichés.Even the style lacks Wolfe's usual verve. He's particularly interested in the way modern Americans talk, but in his Rip Van Winkle voice, we get endless explanations and reenactments of what he calls the "undergraduate vocabulary," a discovery he highlights in a brief dedication to his children. Most of the dialogue is written in a profane patois that Wolfe spells out as though he's recording the grunts and clicks of a lost dialect from Inner Mongolia. But he has nothing to add to Norman Mailer's far more daring analysis of American profanity some 40 years ago in "Armies of the Night."Even more tedious than the affected slips of Southern and African-American dialects are his needless parenthetical translations: I can't (cain't) stand them('em). And when characters yell at each other, their words are written in caps so that we know THEY'RE SPEAKING VERY LOUDLY.The story follows the rise and fall of Charlotte Simmons, a brilliant country bumpkin from Sparta, N.C., (pop. 900), who wins a scholarship to Dupont University, one of the most prestigious institutions in the country. Charlotte's parents are simple folk, devout Christians, who have instilled in their daughter a deep sense of morality. They don't drink, swear, put on airs, or take no stock in your highfalutin citified ways. Along with a devoted teacher at school, they have instilled in Charlotte a sense of her exceptionalism that inspires the novel's title, which is also a sort of inspirational mantra for the heroine.Charlotte heads off to Dupont University expecting to enter the august halls of academe, but she quickly finds that it's a brothel, seething with vain, vicious girls and crude, drunken boys. Her snobby roommate won't have anything to do with her. The coed bathrooms are an abomination. Athletes on the basketball team don't take their classes seriously. And hunky frat boys pretend to be interested in your mind, but they're interested in only one thing. (I won't spoil it for you.)Poor Charlotte is consumed with loneliness and confusion. Everyone mocks her clothes, her naiveté, her virginity, her tee-totaling. Professors recognize her brilliance, but brilliance doesn't matter in this marketplace of drunken flesh. So, how can she resist when the hottest boy on campus asks her to the Spring Formal? (Wolfe Note: The term "hottest" is not a reference to the temperature of his body, but to the developed musculature of his body, which, along with a number of male bodies in this book, is described with slobbering attention.)Meanwhile, one of the nerds who works for the school paper (where else?) is pursuing a scandal that could rock American politics, but don't worry about that potentially interesting thread; it never leads off campus - or toward anything.The only issue that develops some traction in this novel is race. Wolfe explored that more profoundly in "The Bonfire of Vanities" and "A Man in Full," but his portrayal here of the racial tensions on the college basketball court is engaging. He shows a sport played largely by black men for the entertainment of white fans in an academic setting that contorts its principles to keep the whole industry going.The cynical coach reaps millions; the pasty professor growls about academic standards; the expedient college president maintains an uneasy truce. All these characters play to type, but at the center of this subplot is a white basketball star who feels threatened by the talent and aggression of black players all around him. Why, he wonders, do they have access to a whole range of words and stances that are forbidden to him? What's more, he's starting to feel attracted to a life of the mind that he can just barely imagine. But this minor development is buried in a variety of borrowed plot lines, including a climactic bit of satire about political correctness that might have been sharp 20 years ago.The problem isn't really the inclusion of so many cliché characters; sadly, there are plenty of real students who fall into these categories. What's galling about this novel is its persistent lack of nuance, its reduction of the whole spectrum of people on a college campus to these garish primary colors.Wolfe wrote a much discussed essay for Harper's in 1989, "A Literary Manifesto for the New Social Novel." Instead of the cerebral games that now pass for fiction, he argued, American novelists should "head out into this wild, bizarre, unpredictable, Hog-stomping Baroque country of ours and reclaim it as literary property." This is good advice. When he took it, he hog-stomped out two baroque novels, first about New York and then about Atlanta. But cooped up on campus with "Charlotte Simmons" he's too predictable and too late to reclaim anything of interest.http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1109/p1...


a 70-something year old man with an amazingly well-researched version of college life. SPOILER ALERT: the ending was stupid.

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.


Wolfe could not seem to decide whether he wanted Charlotte Simmons to be a satire or a legitimate zeitgeist piece. Thus, the characters come off as caricatures to ill effect. Wolfe should take a page from Sinclair Lewis, who somehow managed to write biting satire with still-believable protagonists at the helm. Wolfe could have also gone all out and just made this an absurd piece of literature, but he clearly intended to use this book as a revelation on modern college life.In Wolfe's defense:Though I think there are legitimate criticisms of Charlotte Simmons, the most frequent one, the "look at how this prude old guy is so freaked out by young people today" criticism is problematic on several levels. First: it is possible for an author to create an authentic protagonist with whom s/he has little in common. Take Mark Twain's feat of writing from the perspective of a boy in Huck Finn or Sinclair Lewis's believable boob Babbitt in the eponymous book. Wolfe may come from a different generation than his characters, but this does not preclude him from channeling universal emotions through his characters, emotions like self-doubt, alienation, etc.A favorable reviewer on Amazon rightly pointed out that those who criticize Wolfe for not getting this current generation are missing the point. Wolfe is asking the reader to step outside the decadent conventions of this group in order to question why it they are so blindly accepted. To dismiss him because he seems so shocked! by the generation he portrays is to buy into the legitimacy of this (my) generation's norms. Like so many American novels before it, I Am Charlotte Simmons indicts complacent conformity. Perhaps it's easier to recognize these themes in novels where the author is skewering the prudish, straight-laced yesmen rather than the indulgent, counter-traditional ones, but both societies signify rigidity and intolerance towards deviating norms. The pendulum has just shifted in the sense that polite conversation is now quite hospitable to the impolite, but now the diplomat is the odd man out. Being different is hard, whether you're a wandering musician in 1950s America or an intellecutally curious girl from a quiet mountain town in millenial America.My biggest issue: I am most disappointed with how unedited I Am Charlotte Simmons seems at times. Wolfe could have pared this book down a lot. He simply writes too much, sometimes mercilessly belaboring his point. Still, I think the generic criticisms of this book are ignorant of a novel's purpose.

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


I read this book at around the same time as a friend of mine did, when we were both still in college. Accordingly, we found the novel amusing in its over-the-top parody of the college experience, although when I came back to the novel later I was disappointed by the shallowness of its characters, the awkward overabundance of its prose, the jarring implausibility of several elements of the plot, and the inconsistency of those characters that were complex enough even to be inconsistent at all.Another thing that was distracting/annoying about the novel is the sense that the author is leering at his heroine. To an extent, it's in Wolfe's style to dwell on the physiques of his characters --- he rhapsodizes just as much about the well-developed muscles of his athletic male characters as he does about the curves or thinness of his pretty female characters --- but Charlotte seems to get a scrutiny above and beyond that given to any other character, and most of that directed below her waist. It's really quite jarring to read a story that's ostensibly about a girl's efforts to remain intellectually, spiritually and morally pure in an atmosphere of total freedom when the author --- who should, theoretically, be giving us her perspective in the sections of the book that follow her --- is so obsessed with her body. Read this if you're looking for a contemporary version of the florid period bodice-ripper. It's also quite funny in a lot of places, though it varies whether it's Wolfe or the college experience he's caricaturing that makes you laugh.


Not bad but Tom Wolf is a bit too descriptive wheather he's talking about a college basketball games, frat praties, being locked out of your dorm becasue your roomate is fucking, we get it Tom Wolf college is about NCAA bids and parties, and not about the humanities, college is for privileged upper middle class young adults and high school athletes, a place they can put off growing up for four years. This is more or less true about college, unless you attend a liberal arts college which is a huge waste of money and even time, because the library is free and you can study anything there, and become an expert on it, why waste your money it's not as if your going to find a job with a liberal arts degree that affords you to pay your student loan debt back and not live at your parents or live like your homeless. Listen just drop out, college is the biggest scam ever conceived, I wish I never would of attended college.


** 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!

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *