Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Giving Charlotte Simmons the old college try

I've been in a reading rut lately(starting and then stopping with some books,leaving off for abit
with others)so as a jumpstart,I decided to tackle My Name Is Charlotte Simmons,Tom Wolfe's
latest and much reviled novel. It's in paperback but I bought a hardcover copy at a local rummage
sale for $2(John Irving's new book,Until I Find You,was right next to it but I already had it-sweet
irony! I'm more of an Irving fan which is why I splurged on the HC). It's in good shape,too. Most
likely,someone bought it and never got around to reading the book-done that that myself. I buy
books the way other women buy shoes.

The only other Wolfe book I've read was Bonfire of the Vanities(that movie was a totally watered
down mess of cinematic crap). Bonfire was good but otherwise I'm not really into his work. Wolfe
can tell a story and carry many plot threads along with ease but there is a aloofness that creeps
into his writing(also,his insistence on wearing white suits doesn't lighten him up at all-Little Sister
took one look at the back cover photo of him and said he looked like a "Southern Fried pimp").

The reviews of MNICS were pretty harsh,making it the Gigli of literary novels for awhile. Even
Stephen King wasn't crazy about it(he wrote about it in his EW column and was more fairminded than some of the critics,in my opinion)and alot of times,King's turned me on to some
really good books like A Simple Plan. Anyway,I figured "This can't be any worse than Anne Rice
writing about how Jesus likes Joseph to tell Moses stories to all the kids"so I started with page

So far,the book is OK-Charlotte does seem quite the ubernaive gal but there are remote areas of this country where Sex In The City is not available and folks can't always afford to own the newest electronic gadgets so I'm willing to suspend some disbelief here,for now. I did read the
section where Charlotte is shocked at the price of Cosmopolitan(and more freaked out by the
articles-hell,even I find those "How to Please Your Man" things putrid) and while it is silly for
a young woman to think a magazine subscription would be only four bucks,I do believe that
magazines like Cosmo would be hard to find in many small towns. I give Charlotte an even
break but I'm only about a hundred and fifty pages in at the moment. Malarkey may yet
still loom ahead.

Wolfe isn't really saying anything new here but maybe that's not his intention. I know he's had
a feud with John Irving and a couple of other writers about how the novel isn't challenging any
more(this argument pops up as frequently as the "Rock is dead" debate,which ends as soon as
the latest sensation hits the scene)but like I said about the gals with the "chick lit" quarrel,stop
the infighting,people. Don't playerhate,playerparticipate! As for Charlotte Simmons,I'll keep
up with her wacky college adventures for now and then dive into Until I Find You. Stay tuned
for the final word on Charlotte-there will be a test.

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