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I Am Charlotte Simmons Paperback – 20 Oct 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (20 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099479028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099479024
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 166,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tom Wolfe was born in 1931. He has written for The Washington Post and The New York Herald Tribune and is credited with the creation of 'New Journalism'. Between 1984 and 1985 Wolfe wrote his first novel The Bonfire of the Vanities in serial form for Rolling Stone magazine. The novel was published in 1987. It was number one of the New York Times bestseller list for two months and remained on the list for more than a year. He is the author of sixteen books, among them such contemporary classics as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and I Am Charlotte Simmons. He lives in New York City.

Product Description

Review

"A firecracker of a novel... A pyrotechnic delight just as dazzling as The Bonfire of the Vanities" (Sunday Express)

"Brilliant... Not just a rollicking comedy of campus misbehaviour but a blistering indictment of contemporary standards" (Mail on Sunday)

"Exaggerates and deflates the pretensions of America's future ruling class in hilarious style" (The Economist)

"These are Wolfe's most memorable characters and this is his best book yet" (David Isaacson Word Magazine)

"Exuberant, lovingly crafted grotesquery" (Daily Telegraph)

Book Description

Another unputdownable novel from the author of The Bonfire of the Vanities and A Man in Full, both bestsellers.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Beca on 15 May 2006
Format: Paperback
I love Tom Wolfe's novels - whenever I need true and utter escapism, they never fail to deliver what I am looking for, and this book is no exception. Once again the author skillfully provides insight into the lives of a vivid and varied range of characters, all centring on Charlotte Simmons, the first year university student struggling to cope with the culture shock of leaving behind small town life. At times the empathy I felt with Charlotte overwhelmed me and (much as I usually berate those who make statements like this) found myself marvelling that a male author could emulate such an intrinsically female viewpoint so effectively.

I did, however, feel marginally disappointed with the ending, which felt rushed and each character dealt with a little too easily. But don't let that put you off - this is well worth buying.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By theandrewssister on 2 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback
I've worshipped Wolfe for years. He is a master of stuttering, sparkling polemic, the poster-boy for the New Journalism (i.e. journalism that reads like a novel or short story) and pretty much unrivalled in that sphere. He has also been known to turn out a truly great satirical novel (Bonfire of the Vanities). But "I am..." reads... well, rather as you would expect a very long novel by an ageing satirical journalist to read, and I found it a disappointment. It feels like an early novel (say something by Fanny Burney) in that almost all of the characters are cardboard cutouts - entirely two-dimensional personifications of a particular character trait. The exception is Charlotte herself, and I can just about go along with her violently contradictory mixture of high-mindedness, resolution and fallibility - but oh my word she's unlikeable; as, indeed, is every single character. This, more than anything else, is what makes the whole thing such a drag -- it's simply too long a book, no matter how readable, to fight through if you can't care a rap about any one of the protagonists. On the purely technical side, it abounds in irritating Wolfean cliche ("loamy loins" being my personal least favourite example) while almost entirely lacking the fizzing, syntax-mangling exuberance of his earlier writing. And Wolfe's contention that American academia is nothing but a writhing snakepit of sex, substance abuse and cruelty would be fairly amusing in an article such as those in "Mauve Gloves and Madmen..." -- polemic is meant to be exaggerated and monotone, after all -- but in such a long novel it simply invites irritated rejection. After all, someone must occasionally do a little bit of work?Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Roy Brookes VINE VOICE on 23 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
I have read all of Tom Wolfe's works. He is one of those authors whose books I buy on faith. However this one was a let-down. Yes, he can write but the subject matter and the characterisation in this book were just too weak. There were some funny bits - the Japanese car called a "Bitsosushi" for example - but ultimately I was left with a sense of frustration because Mr Wolfe did not do enough with any of the themes and sub-themes he introduced. The characters were unsympathetic and as for the "heroine" - I wanted to shake her warmly by the throat - she was such a wimp. Her moping after her first sexual encounter drove me up the wall for several chapters. All in all, not Mr Wolfe's best book by a very long way. I hope he does better next time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mick Jackson on 15 Jun. 2006
Format: Paperback
This may not be Tom Wolfe's best book ever, but even when he's not firing on all pistons, his prose is more turbocharged than most novelists half his age. 'Charlotte Simmons' has received its share of brickbats, though you can't help but think that Wolfe has actually gone out and done something that other writers don't even bother with: he's actually done some legworks, like Dickens, Balzac and Trollope before him. Five stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alex Brunel on 10 April 2009
Format: Paperback
It's a little bit long and that means hard to take in one go... yet this faux-avuncular expose' of contemporary college life at a top American university kept me going back until I'd learned how its heroine - a straight and gifted poor girl from the Blue Ridge - will deal with the cards Life/Wolf has given her.

Armed with searing intelligence, a loving family background, and a superior secondary education, Charlotte heads for what all expect will be great things when she's accepted on full-scholarship to the fabled Yankee college known as DuPont. She leaves with with the blessings of her entire community - to discover that the same loneliness and peer-group complications which have dogged her school life are amplified a thousand-fold when when you have to get on and you're no longer the only smart kid in class.

Wolfe uses Charlotte to illumine the forces at work behind the dumbing-down of America: the worship of success at any cost, some of the truths behind the continuing if camouflaged dominance of the American elite, the destruction of all that is or ever might have been good and noble about "the life of the mind", the marginalization of intelligent, let alone intellectual, endeavour. But most of all he shows us, through Charlotte and almost those all she meets, what narcissism is, and how we are all affected and lessened by it.

I can't say this was a comfortable read; one's own hypocrisy is not a pleasing companion. And I can't say either that Wolfe understands everything about women, because Charlotte's motivations are somehow elusive: the manner in which she begins to use all her power, including her beauty, differently to get the recognition she craves is just short of credible to me.
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