Michiko Kakutani takes Tom Wolfe's new novel I Am Charlotte Simmons apart in this New York Times review. The novel's title character is a student at the fictional Dupont University, which Kakutani identifies as closely based on Duke University.
I read The Bonfire of the Vanities years ago, and found it moderately enjoyable, but (apparently, like many people) I have never gotten around to reading Wolfe's second novel from a few years back, A Man in Full. Guess I'll put that back on the list now that I've been reminded of it!
Anyway, if Kakutani can be believed, I Am Charlotte Simmons invokes every trite and superficial trope of college life there is, and contains precious few insights into either student life or the culture of American higher education. It sounds like Wolfe should have taken to heart the old piece of advice that says authors should write what they know. Why a 70+ year-old man -- even an acknowledged great writer like Wolfe -- would think he could successfully write about a contemporary female college student is beyond me. I'll probably read it anyway, even if just for eye-rolls and laughs.Posted by at October 30, 2004 12:25 PM