College Transition Initiative

Welcome to the blog of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding’s (CPYU) College Transition Initiative (CTI). This site contains commentary on transitional issues, exploring research, trends and college student culture. For more information visit:

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The transition from high school to college is a difficult one, and yet, it is a transition that is often overlooked. This site is to help college bound students, parents, and youth workers stay up to date on the latest research and trends in regards to college transition. Your comments are greatly appreciated. Join the conversation!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Why Read I Am Charlotte Simmons?

I Am Charlotte Simmons came out last summer and is the latest novel by Tom Wolfe. Wolfe, the social scientist that he is, attempted to capture what life is like on American college campuses through the eyes of a college freshman, Charlotte Simmons. At times, the book is vile and vulgar and led many critics to conclude that Wolfe was using hyberbole. It can't be that bad. Students don't act like that, do they? This response surprised me.

I have been around institutions of higher education, both Christian and secular, for the last ten years and I found Wolfe's depiction pretty accurate. Of course, there were times that I thought Wolfe could have done without some of the language, partying and sex. There were too many of these scenes that didn't advance the plot. But my criticisms of the novel were more literary than anything else. I thought, on the whole, Wolfe described student attitudes and campus culture pretty well.

Why should we read I Am Charlotte Simmons? That's a good question. And one that a writer from World magazine recently answered. Joel Belz writes:

"If the explicit nature of I Am Charlotte Simmons is an offense to the reader who wants to guard his or her heart—and it is—that offense is nothing compared to the reality the novel so indecently describes, and the fact that tens of thousands of people who would never read the book are allowing and even encouraging their children to live in that reality."

You can read the article, "Vile and Vulgar: But Tom Wolfe’s offensive fiction describes a reality parents should take seriously" in its entirety here (but only until June 21).

It's not very long and well worth the time. It may even help you narrow down your summer reading list!


Blogger splitrock4jesus said...

Thanks for mentioning this book. I read it last year, not long after it came out. I agree that it was vile and vulger. It was disgusting and disheartening to see how some people are so wrapped up in sin that they use each other and don't give a crap about anything else. Some are so lost. May the saving gospel of Jesus Christ come into their hearts and change their lives! May we remember to pray for them.

11:56 AM  

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