Sunday, October 12, 2008

he is charlotte simmons

I've spent by far the greater part of my adult life with "my nose in a book," as my father once put it (probably while trying to get my nose out of the book and into one of his duct tape-based home renovation projects) , so it occurs to me that the occasional entry reviewing something I've just read could be a valid form of blogging, provided it doesn't become a habit, and I don't turn into some low-rent - albeit kinder - Michiko Kakutani.*

The book I just read is I am Charlotte Simmons, by Tom (Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test) Wolfe. I've avoided reading it until now (it was published in 2004) because I read a bunch of bad reviews when it came out including, if I remember correctly, one by Kakutani.

Mostly, though, I avoided it because I couldn't bear the mental picture of Tom Wolfe, in all his peculiar, personal, sartorial glory (i.e., wearing a blindingly white three-piece suit, with a pastel-colored, high-colored shirt and SPATS) hanging out on North American university campuses taking the pulse of modern collegiate life.

I decided to give it a chance, however, when it was recommended to me by my cousin, whose taste in books has always been excellent (read: very similar to my own).

It's 672-pages long and I read it in three days. I don't know if he truly captured the feel of a modern American university campus, but he captured a few feelings I remember from my first year at university, although my university was to the "Dupont" university of this novel as Pee Wee Herman's Playhouse is to Versailles.

I really can't be bothered to summarize the plot and I'm not going to recommend you read it because the LAST thing I want is somebody saying, "You said that book was good and it SUCKED and I want my money back." (Which, in passing, is probably one of the reasons Michiko Kakutani is so negative - she doesn't want to deal with that nonsense either).

So, I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe - read or don't, I really don't care.

Man, this book reviewing gig is a breeze.

[Pictured above: Tom Wolfe on his way to a pre-game tailgate party.]

*The New York Times' cranky book reviewer - I'm tossing in a mention to establish myself as sufficiently literary to review books, and yes, I had to look up the spelling.

No comments: