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Cry Wolfe

I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe, a review from The Atlantic Monthly by Mark Bowden.

"In one of many deft set pieces in Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons, a group of student journalists at the fictional Dupont University hold a meeting in the 'lumpen-bohemian clutter' of their campus newsroom. The editor wants a firm story list for the next issue's fast-approaching deadline, but the discussion bogs down over an item that might just be important breaking news — they're not sure. It seems that the campus custodial staff cleaned from the quad sidewalks crude chalk depictions of homosexual acts. Camille Deng, a feisty arch-feminist and civil libertarian, is outraged by such heedless destruction of gay art. 'Do you think it's just a coincidence that Parents Weekend is coming up?' she argues." Read the entire Atlantic Monthly review.

4 Responses to "Cry Wolfe"

    James Brian April 4th, 2006 at 1:10 am

    I have yet to read any of Tom Wolfe's fiction, but I've been a great fan of his nonfiction, and it's nice to see Mark Bowden sticking up for him in this review of I Am Charlotte Simmons. I disagree, however, with Bowden's statement that The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test "ridiculed the pretensions of the hippie movement". Wolfe's classic about Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters didn't ridicule anyone - it could not have been fairer or more objective in its reportage.

    Joe Montanari April 4th, 2006 at 8:08 am

    Was it Faulkner who said that great literature, like all great art, is that which passes the test of time? Wolfe's lucid observations of the absurdities of the human condition express the universal truths that no amount of stylistic preciousness can. Thank you, Mr. Bowden.

    Eunice K. Riemer April 4th, 2006 at 11:58 am

    This review is a long-awaited rebuttal to the critical outcry that greeted the publication of "I Am Charlotte Simmons." I haven't read the book yet, but I am a fan of Wolfe's work. I presumed at the time it was published that someone's ox was being seriously gored. It's nice to know that such was the case.

    Anwyn Ereshkigal April 4th, 2006 at 1:07 pm

    Sorry Eunice, this puppy is a blunt instrument. I can hardly believe Tom Wolfe wrote a book that bad. How is that even possible? The problem is twofold: First, he portrays what he tells us are the brightest students at the most challenging school as self-absorbed emotional infants completely uninterested in ideas.The former may be a matter of opinion, the latter isn't even possible. Second, he is clearly trying to shock us with socio-sexual issues that were atavistic in 1945. This
    read is like a YA (Young Adult) title out of the early sixties, and as such, is about three times too long.

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