Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 77

I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe is another one of those books that's been out for quite a while that I've always wanted to read, but just sort of overlooked every time I went to purchase a new book. For one thing, it's long - the hardback version I read was over 650 pages (can't that count as two books?). For another, it's the Tom Wolfe version of a tale as old as time: brilliant country bumpkin heads off for an Ivy League university and is shocked at what she finds - drinking, sex, revealing clothing, frivolous spending, more drinking, a fixation on sports, more sex, vulgar music, bitchy girls, more drinking, more sex. I've read books like it before (my neighbor observed that I have a "prep school thing going"). In Wolfe's hands, the subject matter is familiar, yet removed - after all, he was 73 years old when he wrote it and hasn't been an undergrad himself in over fifty years. He relied on research conducted by students at five universities - and you can tell when you read the descriptions of quarters, fraternity houses, and common usages of the words "shit" and "fuck" that current college students helped him. I've lived in a college town since 2005, and some of this stuff was spot-on. But as I mentioned earlier, I've read books with similar subject matter before, and I knew certain things were going to happen. Of course Charlotte would have a bitchy roommate. Of course Charlotte would meet up with two other misfit girls - and of course they would betray her. Of course the fraternity guy would invite her to his formal - what else would he do? Rich, lush, startlingly accurate - but a little stale.

Here is an awesome, albeit somewhat more scathing, review.

I Am Charlotte Simmons - B+

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