Lingua Mea Vita

I Am March Madness

Before I start this next LMV entry, let’s take note of the above image. Who would’ve thought that I Am Charlotte Simmons, a novel that tackles race, sex, and class politics at Ivy League colleges, was written by the lovechild of Mark Twain and Colonel Sanders.

And in a way, I Am Charlotte Simmons even sounds like it was written between a cross between those two. Tom Wolfe has the sharp wit of Mark Twain and the…home-y-ness (?)…of Colonel Sanders. Is that right? Is fried chicken home-y?

What I mean to say is that Tom Wolfe’s voices as the books main characters, noob social-climber Charlotte, power Frat Packer Hoyt, Great White Hope Jojo, and narcissist nerd Adam ring so true. They are incredibly round, and hit so close to home. Home-y. (Plus, Charlotte is from North Carolina and there’s a lot of fun dialect peppered in the novel).

If you are looking for the perfect time of year to read this book, might I suggest now (during March Madness)? I first read this book a couple of years in March. I watched the basketball tourney and read this book in my free time, and I tell you—it built some crazy excitement. This also could be because my alma mater was named-checked in it.

Let me preface the rest of this entry by saying that I Am Charlotte Simmons is not about NCAA. Or college basketball, really, despite one of the main characters being on the basketball team. Like I said earlier, the book is really a critique of college-kid behavior (especially in Ivy League schools, where Americans have an assumption that these kids are “classier” and “know better”), and the methods of doing so through the plot are deliciously, shamefully fun—brainy Charlotte latches onto womanizer fratboy Hoyt for recognition, Hoyt comes across a politician getting a blow job, Jojo battles an upstart basketball star while being white, and Adam balances being Jojo’s bitchboy, Hoyt’s power-trip of a story and a crush on Charlotte.

It’s like Degrassi! But in college! And sophisticated!

And for those sketpics who doubt an “old fogie” like Tom Wolfe can effectively write in a voice that rings true of a college student…there is an incident called “The Night of the Skullfuck.”

Enough said.


Though I got an amazingly awesome (almost…scary) rush reading this book while reading this as a college student, I really wish I would have read this book before I went to college. I glided through high-school with intellectual, tea-drinking friends and was blissfully unaware of what college social lives were made of…and when I actually got to my university, I shut down.

I see this book as high quality high-school required reading. I know it’s got lots of sexual content and coarse language…but so does “Skins”, and “Jersey Shore”, and everything else on MTV. At least with putting I Am Charlotte Simmons in a school setting, you get to read about the same situations seen on television AND get a good teacher-led discussion.  The students read something that is stimulating for them and learn something in the process! I feel like if I’d read something like this before I’d left, I’d be more prepared. (Trust me, it still would’ve been rough, I was never at the level of your average college lush).


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