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Added: Marielle Grindstaff - Date: 12.08.2021 22:17 - Views: 33971 - Clicks: 3150

With full flourish, Wolfe trains his arsenal of talents on college life. It is comic anthropology -- hilarious, satirical, and gluttonous to devour the many inanities of undergraduate tribal life. All of that is good Tom Wolfe fun. But there is also a not quite explicit preachiness in the novel that isn't typical Wolfe.

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It's not hip, it's even earnest, and it's being ripped apart by the critics. The essential pathology that Wolfe aims at from many angles is this: a promiscuity that precludes love. With lurid detail, he paints pictures of hormones revved up by the steroids of porn-lite pop culture; sex enhanced by anonymity and erased by any hint of romance; sex as consummation of coolness, of not deigning to be so geeky as to care or commit or show passion about anything; a narcissistic but whorish obsession with bodies and grooming by both sexes; girls who service men, who've ceded to men their ancient powers; the absence of any kind of idealism, morality, ambition, religion or romanticism that, in Western culture at least, sometimes preserved words like "soul" and "heart" and "love" from the omnipresent forces of lust, liquor, narcotics, status and cruelty.

You see why parents might want to read this novel? Perhaps with their children, those 15 and up I'd say. Wolfe's critics have been bickering over exactly what percentage of undergraduates are really afflicted with the uber-horny condition he described; no one can argue that he's inventing the whole syndrome. So do the percentages matter? Of course not, it's a novel -- a mostly comic novel that like most comedy nails some cruel truths.

It's not accurate sociology, its social criticism. But he also has a simple point about a sad thing. He is writing about hard-hearted people, youth without idealism. If you don't think Wolfe's wolves are ranging on campuses, or that they're just a passing phase for a few loose bimbos and himbos, get your head out of the sand.

Go online and read the sex advice columns that are in most campus newspapers.

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Even easier, do what I did and walk to the nearest drugstore and buy every magazine marketed to young women that you can find. This offers a ghoulish snapshot of hooking up culture, but also of the social conditioning required to make it possible.

So keep that in mind next time you hook up with someone. You get the idea - but just barely, because the advertising photography is far more exploitive and degrading - anorexic models with plastic breasts and lips the size of babies' bottoms.

I am late to the cat fight Miss Simmons stirred up. But to me it's a fight that has little to do with what's important in the novel. Book buyers have gobbled "Charlotte" up. The glitterati feted it but the literati hated it - hated it with a snarky vengeance that conjures the whole "doth protest too much" thing.

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You can find, quite literally, dozens of similarly poisonous condemnations for a book that I guarantee will repeatedly crack you up and make you think hard, very hard, about the culture our children come of age in. Wolfe's novel is denounced because it is not an "accurate" portrait of campus life odd, I thought it was fictionbecause it is mean to women, because it's bawdy, long, cartoonish and just not as hip as the author thinks.

Personally, I think the mainstream censors hate the book because instead of making fun of people they despise - investment bankers, socialites, real estate developers, politicians - it devastatingly, hilariously and depressingly satirizes things they care about: colleges, education, intellectuals, the fruits of feminism and sexual liberation. To find a nice word about the book, you must find a conservative. Like David Brooks in The New York Times: "Wolfe describes a society in which we still have vague notions about good and bad, virtue and vice, but the moral substructure that fits all those concepts together has been washed away.

Everybody is left swirling about in a chaotic rush of desire and action, without a coherent code to make sense of it all. The critics of materialistic, misogynistic and over-hormoned pop culture and the behaviors it helps spawn are generally dismissed as censors, rabid feminists or Christian zealots. Pop culture is big business and no one will ever make a nickel attacking it. Well, maybe Tom Wolfe will. Especially if his fellow critics could just listen to him. E-mail questions, comments, complaints, arguments and ideas to Against the Grain.

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We will publish some of the interesting and civil ones, sometimes in edited form. Chrome Safari Continue. Be the first to know. Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.

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