Why Read I Am Charlotte Simmons?
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!