Monday, August 14, 2006

Wolfe on "College"

Curious how other authors are treating college life (Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep, by the way, made me want to pull my hair out and beat the living you-know-what out of the wet-noodle high-school protagonist) I just finished reading Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons. It was good. I'm still digesting it, so I can't give a complete opinion yet.

It is sort of funny, from the standpoint of someone who graduated college last spring, to read about "real" college life as researched by a man who actually went to college 40 years ago...Wolfe seemed unnaturally fascinated by certain facets of college life that I would take for granted as the natural way of things. It made me laugh, some of the topics he treated in a "can-you-believe-these-kids-act-this way-nowadays?" kind of light. Like the dark eye makeup, tight jeans and bare-midrift shirts that college girls wear to go out...he describes it over and over like it's something that bears close scrutiny. Um, didn't he live through the 70s?

The book is probably more earth-shattering to the older generation than it is to mine. But my biggest beef with it: I know I went to a state college in the Bible belt, but COME ON. Not every college girl is as slutty as he portrays all the college-aged women in this book (oh, excuse me, except for the frightening foul-mouthed lesbian on the newspaper staff). Sex is not the main focus of all campus life. We DO have morals... And can university culture as I experienced it really be that different from cultures at the Ivies? (ok, I know they're different, but surely some things are the same).

But not to get off on that tangent. I'm glad I read the book and I really did like most of it. It wasn't, however, much help in the writing department. Except that I do like his journalistic prose style. And would love to have one-eighth of his vocabulary.

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