Click here to read reviewer Luan Gaines' take on I Am Charlotte Simmons.
In this followup to A Man In Full, the Big Mad Wolfe switches gears from the high-powered and degenerate world of finance and deal-making to the simply getting high and similarly degenerate world of college life. Charlotte Simmons is a naive but brilliant little waif from the hardtackle and backwoods area of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, an engaging creature who understands more about advanced biology than she does the mores and social dictates of the world outside her provincial environment. She lands a fully funded scholarship to Dupont University, a fictional Ivy League campus which is as foreign to her as cell phones, form fitting jeans, and even computers.
She navigates the beer-soaked fraternities and co-ed dorms as best she can, trying to preserve her small-town ways and virginal status. Ultimately, three campus characters will change all that: JoJo Johanssen, the sole white basketball player; Adam Gellin, a nerd of epic proportions manifestly charmed by her downhome innocence; and Hoyt Thorpe, the über-cool frat-boy who will win her heart and take her maidenhood.
Wolfe has been accused of creating characters out of touch with the world, unbelievable students who would never talk or socialize in the manner depicted here. In truth, every campus in the country has these very people walking around them, forever fighting the urge to join in - i.e., drink, hook up - in lieu of maintaining a GPA above braindead.
These 676 pages fly by. Tom Wolfe is a masterful author who combines precised and focued reporting skills with the studied hand of a professional writer. He better understands what is going on in our colleges than the very people attending them. Anyone who doesn't respond to this book with gasps of awe and tears of amazment doesn't understand words of more than two syllables or is simply jealous of his literary accumen.