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November 16, 2004

Worse than "loamy loins"?

Scott Lemieux started a fun new blog game: cull the most damning review of Tom Wolfe's I am Charlotte Simmons.

Scott found a real gem in Charles McGrath's NYT review:

Rivers of alcohol slosh through ''I Am Charlotte Simmons,'' and on practically every page there's an exposure of ''winking navels,'' ''iliac crests'' or ''loamy loins.''

Good, but Tim Adams' has put forth a serious contender in today's Guardian:

Charlotte's favorite course at Dupont becomes 'Introduction to Neuroscience: Descartes, Darwin, and the Mind-Body Problem'. Her professor, Victor Starling, has won a Nobel Prize for proving that 'cultural parastimuli' - peer pressures - can swamp genetics. In his defining experiment, Starling proved that normal cats become uncontrollably sexually aroused when they live alongside cats made permanently in heat. In this light, at Dupont, Charlotte's virtue hardly stands a chance.


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...Charlotte's virtue hardly stands a chance.

So much can be gleaned about Wolfe's morality in that phrase. Somehow I doubt that Wolfe would have had nearly the problem were his protagonist a male. Then it would all be part of "the hunt."

I think it was Robert Heinlein who said something like "virginity is an easily resolved condition." Better than "moral suicide."

What's really amazing about the McGrath piece is that the quotes came as support for what was ostensibly a *positive* review. Jesus, I'd hate to see what he considered to be the weaker passages in the novel...

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