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I Am Charlotte Simmons (2004)

by Tom Wolfe

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,755792,835 (3.41)68
2005 Audie Award FinalistAmerica's "peerless observer" ("People") uncovers college life--from jocks to mutants, dormcest to tailgating--plus race, class, sex, and basketball Dupont University--the Olympian halls of learning housing the cream of America's youth, the roseate Gothic spires and manicured lawns suffused with tradition...Or so it appears to beautiful, brilliant Charlotte Simmons, a sheltered freshman from North Carolina, who has come here on full scholarship. But Charlotte soon learns, to her mounting dismay, that for the uppercrust coeds of Dupont, sex, Cool, and kegs trump academic achievement every time.As Charlotte encounters Dupont's privileged elite--her roommate, Beverly, a fleshy, Groton-educated Brahmin in lusty pursuit of lacrosse players; Jojo Johanssen, the only white starting player on Dupont's godlike basketball team, whose position is threatened by a hotshot black freshman from the projects; the Young Turn of Saint Ray fraternity, Hoyt Thorpe, whose heady sense of entitlement and social domination is clinched by his accidental brawl with a bodyguard for the governor of California; and Adam Geller, one of the Millennial Mutants who run the university's "independent" newspaper and who consider themselves the last bastion of intellectual endeavor on the sex-crazed, jock- obsessed campus--she gains a new, revelatory sense of her own power, that of her difference and of her very innocence, but little does she realize that she will act as a catalyst in all of their lives.With his signature eye for detail, Tom Wolfe draws on extensive observation of campuses across the country to immortalize college life in the '00s." I Am Charlotte Simmons" is the much-anticipated triumph of America's master chronicler.… (more)
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» See also 68 mentions

English (70)  French (4)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
It took me forever to read this and for a 700 page book there wasn't much of a pay-off. All this build up, to the main "climax" and then another 200 pages of follow-up. ( )
  cziering | Nov 27, 2022 |
This book was pretty wretched in almost all ways. I kind of skimmed the last 50 pages out of sheer boredom. I could explain further but I don't care. ( )
  jdegagne | Apr 23, 2022 |
It has been 30 years since I started college, and in those years, nothing has fundamentally changed. The clothes, music, language and technology is all different, yes, but the fundamentals remain the same.

Freshmen struggle with the transition from high school and home to college courses and dorm life. Good students find themselves being challenged by their class assignments. Smart girls do stupid things and bitchy girls do bitchy things.

Absolutely nothing shocking here; just young people being young people.

Charlotte Simmons herself is a bit of a cipher, maybe. I don't understand why she became such a conformist in college; she really should have been past the conformity-prone years by that time. Her self-consciousness was really painful. Her need to compete with the other girls was startling, and her total lack of any female bonding represented a serious developmental flaw in her character.

The storyline of JoJo Johanssen was one of the more interesting ones; I did cheer him on.

The only mystery in this novel was finding out who the "source inside the St Ray house" was. Of course, I. P. was the obvious choice, but I thought it was possible that someone else might have sold out Hoyt Thorp. It is intriguing to think about what happened to Hoyt after the events in this novel.....I guess I can sincerely say that I sort of hope things sucked for him.

The single most annoying incident in the book was Adam's meeting with Professor Quat. How Adam could have trusted him with the truth is beyond me. Wolfe's description of Quat's office decor made me groan and his whole diatribe on the '60's was thankfully short: the obnoxious, insidious, era-ist propaganda issuing forth from Quat made me wish that Adam would punch him in the face. I don't want to hear that shit about the sixties, man, so shut the hell up about it, already!

The ending was....baffling in regards to Charlotte herself. It seems to me like she just gave up on herself and decided to live in the reflected glory of her man. Sad. ( )
  Equestrienne | Jan 5, 2021 |
This held so much promise. I love novels set around college campuses and the character of Charlotte is endearing...at first. Less than halfway through the book I think Wolfe went a little nuts in trying to make the novel as college as possible. It was like every trope and stereotype you might associate with college in one book, and it wasn't particularly successful. The ending was unsatisfying and I grew to dislike every single character. Overall, a very disappointing read. ( )
  bookishtexpat | May 21, 2020 |
I bought this novel because I have heard of the author and have always wanted to read one of his books. I wasn't disappointed, for the most part. The main character, Charlotte Simmons, is a bright young girl who wants to live "the life of the mind" when she starts her freshman year at Dupont University. She has lived a sheltered life, so focused on leaving the small town of Sparta, North Carolina, that she hasn't had the typical teenage life. Things change and she meets three young man who will have an impact on her, in various ways.
I won't say anymore, not wanting the spoil the many surprises and twists that await. The only reason why I didn't give it five stars is because, even though is nearly seven hundred pages, I felt the ending was rushed. ( )
  ZelmerWilson | Oct 31, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
A failure it is: bloated, schematic, heavy-handed, and, it must be said, boring; impotent in its attempts to suggest a lived reality... and, oddest of all, flaccid as social satire.
 
It would be logical to speculate on the psychological connections between the refined 73-year-old author of this strikingly out-of-touch bildungsroman (college kids get drunk! They hook up!) and a bright, well-read, exceedingly pretty, and preposterously dainty fictional lass who is regularly shocked by every cussword she hears uttered by the more affluent boors who share the groves of academe with her.
 
At fictional Dupont University, every guy wants to be thought a "player" (or, as Wolfe spells it, "playa"), and nearly all the undergraduate women hope to be no better than sluts. Behind those ivied walls, our daughters gladly squirm out of their low-cut jeans to rut with shameless abandon, while our sons treat their one-night stands as conquests and whores.
 
Charlotte came to Dupont not for sex but to learn. Like Harvard, Dupontis harder to get into than to stay at, but Charlotte has trouble with her grades. Her shame over sex gets in the way of the exercise of her mind. Somehow the two must be brought into harmony in what Mr. Wolfe calls her soul. She takes courses, however, in biology and neuroscience in which the professor speaks only of "the soul," in dismissive quotation marks. Perhapsthis is why our universities and our society are unable to identifymanliness or see how women and men relate to it. Manliness is a form ofunreason that science tries to explain away, and it takes a novelist to seethe reason in the unreason of manliness.
 
The problem isn't really the inclusion of so many cliché characters; sadly, there are plenty of real students who fall into these categories. What's galling about this novel is its persistent lack of nuance, its reduction of the whole spectrum of people on a college campus to these garish primary colors.
 

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wolfe, Tomprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baker, DylanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jukarainen, ErkkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Every time the men's-room door opened, the amped-up-onslaught of Swarm, the band banging out the concert in the theater overhead, came crashing in, ricocheting off all the mirrors and ceramic surfaces until it seemed twice as loud. (Prologue)
Alleghany County is perched so high up in the hills of western North Carolina that golfers intrepid enough to go up there to play golf call it mountain golf.
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2005 Audie Award FinalistAmerica's "peerless observer" ("People") uncovers college life--from jocks to mutants, dormcest to tailgating--plus race, class, sex, and basketball Dupont University--the Olympian halls of learning housing the cream of America's youth, the roseate Gothic spires and manicured lawns suffused with tradition...Or so it appears to beautiful, brilliant Charlotte Simmons, a sheltered freshman from North Carolina, who has come here on full scholarship. But Charlotte soon learns, to her mounting dismay, that for the uppercrust coeds of Dupont, sex, Cool, and kegs trump academic achievement every time.As Charlotte encounters Dupont's privileged elite--her roommate, Beverly, a fleshy, Groton-educated Brahmin in lusty pursuit of lacrosse players; Jojo Johanssen, the only white starting player on Dupont's godlike basketball team, whose position is threatened by a hotshot black freshman from the projects; the Young Turn of Saint Ray fraternity, Hoyt Thorpe, whose heady sense of entitlement and social domination is clinched by his accidental brawl with a bodyguard for the governor of California; and Adam Geller, one of the Millennial Mutants who run the university's "independent" newspaper and who consider themselves the last bastion of intellectual endeavor on the sex-crazed, jock- obsessed campus--she gains a new, revelatory sense of her own power, that of her difference and of her very innocence, but little does she realize that she will act as a catalyst in all of their lives.With his signature eye for detail, Tom Wolfe draws on extensive observation of campuses across the country to immortalize college life in the '00s." I Am Charlotte Simmons" is the much-anticipated triumph of America's master chronicler.

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