Very long and in need of editing, but Dylan Baker is a great reader and I finished it. Wolfe strikes out with his version of modern college life for an innocent but brilliant young girl.
Ok, this is it, the Mona Lisa, the Mount Everest, the Bill Gates of audiobooks. I've got around 2.3 million audiobooks in my library and this is the best one by far. The writing is sublime -- hilarious beyond belief and completely absorbing.
And the narration? Perfect from word one. I simply can't reccomend this book more strongly.
The voices on this audiobook were simply annoying. I couldn't listen to much at a time, it was like nails on a chalkboard. I hear enough of my kids whining - I don't need it from fiction! It was not the content that bothered me, in fact, that kept me plugging away at it. I do like Wolfe. But I've never heard a preformance take away from a text to that degree.
Charlotte Simmons comes from the mountains of Sparta, Kentucky to DuPont University. She earned a perfect score on her SATs...but doesn't know what a co-ed dorm is. Wolfe captures some definite truths about university life but as someone who went to a top ten university, it's a little ridiculous not to recognize that most people at those top notch schools are hard working and not nearly as...well, stupid as he portrays them. Charlotte can be difficult to even like as a character and she is so ridiculously naive that you get this weird feeling that the subtitle could be "The Beverly Hillbillys go to college." Just a bit overdone. But, having said all that, the story itself is entertaining enough though there were points in which I wanted to fast forward through the narrator's over acting. Also, there were some very very small pauses between what were probably small chapter breaks in the book that were so small, you didn't realize that it was now a totally new subject being discussed.
Long story short - This is a greatly entertaining story and well worth one credit for the amount of time you'll be entertained. At some points, you'll want to roll your eyes at Wolfe but you'll still look forward to what you'll hear next.
The plot, as Tom Wolfe plots go, is good and not too outrageous, although I have to point out that Republican politicians don't ever have oral sex since it's sinful. The character development, well, that's good too---typically humorous and sharp. Language, excellent as always; there are two very amusing sections on the myriad use of two unprintable words.
But what this book does beyond all others is capture the undergraduate life with unflinching accuracy, at least from the point of view of frats and sororities. The mock screaming, the fawning, the groping, the unforgivably awkward geekiness, the sick pleasure of unimportant but nasty gossip, the unrestrained and misdirected lust of children just released from their parents' supervision, the ultra-low-cut pants that display the rear declivity for all to see, the fanny wagging. These are just a few of the ways that college girls have learned to debase themselves and we, the readers, are invited to eavesdrop on the whole prurient affair. Sure, sure, not every college student behaves this badly or with such a powerful self-destructive urge, but it is satire after all.
All of the images flow past in one amusing juxtaposition after another, aided by Dylan Baker's fantastic portrayal of a teenager's brain. His reenactment of an overwrought and melodramatic Charlotte Simmons is particularly awe-inspiring. And his sound effects aren't---rrrhhhaaaa-static rrrrhhaaaaa-static---bad either.
Many critics disliked I am Charlotte S_. They're wrong. This is one of his best works. Mind, there's a lot of scrofulous language and steamy scenes, but that's his take on college life. If that makes you squeamish, then read something else. I'm glad I'm not attending college now. Wolfe's story, though, is hilarious, and the ending is very satisfying because Wolfe leaves no loose ends behind.
I’m a big Tom Wolfe fan so I come with my own prejudices and expectations. A MAN IN FULL really knocked me out, so I expected that level of magnificence from I AM CHARLOTTE SIMMONS. The novel never really gets as “big” as A MAN IN FULL, but the intricacy of the story and the completeness of the characters make it a satisfying Wolfe experience. What I find fascinating and amazing is how a 74-year-old man managed not only to write convincingly and effectively from the point of view of an 18-year-old girl (not to mention the myriad other youngsters he creates), but that the detail only those entrenched in college life as students one would expect from a writer in his 20’s find their way into the story as fine brush strokes. I recommend this book to any and all Wolfe fans as well as anyone in their 20's or otherwise who has attended a university.
Wolfe has painted a portrait of such extremes it is hard to identify with even one pathetic character. Having worked in a University for more than 10 years I barely recognize these young people. And the narrator reads female character's lines like one big screech. I was looking forward to this read and could have tolerated its misinformed content as I love all of Wolfe's writings but between the oversimplification of young people and the narrator missing the right voice for the female characters it is a bomb.
This book is not so much about the characters or the storyline but rather about the incredible wealth of detail that shape their environs.
If you prefer edited of abridged versions of books this is not for you. Those of us who listened to the book here in Europe found the information on modern U.S. college life to be fascinating - even if a little exaggerated .
The narration by Dylan Baker is excellent and hopefully he will record further works.
A true masterwork and a superb "listen".