Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I am Charlotte Simmons

Tom Wolfe's latest 700-page opus has been keeping me busy during 11-hour flights and the like whilst travelling. It was even better than expected: a rocketing pace and a hilarious cast of frat-boys, sorostitutes, geeks and nerdy academics that reminded me ever-so-slightly of universities I have known and loved. It is almost as amusing as Neal Stephenson's Big U in that regard. The transformation of the main character from small-town southern hick to queen of the campus is beautifully described.

The book almost reaches the standard of my favourite novel, Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities, and is much more tightly edited than his A Man in Full. The language and lifestyle of the students at a fictional Ivy League university are portrayed in loving detail. The story feels like an alarmingly accurate insight into US college life, in the same way as the masters of the universe and social x-rays seem to be only thinly fictionalised in Bonfire of the Vanities. Highly recommended!

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