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The Moon Trilogy by Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Ten years ago, I read Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Moon Trilogy, which consists of the following three books: The Moon Maid, The Moon Men and The Red Hawk. You can download these books for free at this link. And then I wrote this review, which was originally posted at my former blog.

The first book of the trilogy, The Moon Maid, reads like a clone of the Mars series. The hero crashes on the moon, discovers strange races, meets a beautiful alien princess, falls in love with the beautiful alien princess. But it’s somewhat darker than the Mars series.

The trilogy takes a completely different turn in the second book, The Moon Men, which takes place many years after the first book ended, after the evil race of moon men took over the Earth and established a totalitarian government. It’s an extremely interesting commentary on what it’s like to live under a totalitarian government, and there are also some very offbeat views on religious worship. I had always assumed that Burroughs was an atheist, but this book makes you wonder what his true beliefs might have been. It may just be that Burroughs was anti-communist rather than pro-religion. The Marxist revolution took place in Russia only a few years before Burroughs wrote these, and the Marxists closed down the churches and put the priests in prison.

Of course, these are still Edgar Rice Burroughs pulp fiction books, so each book features a beautiful girl for the manly hero to fall in love with. All relationships are chaste. There is no sex, just the occasional kiss. I guess back in the 1920s, sex wasn’t something that could be discussed in the open.

The thing I like so much about Burroughs is his political incorrectness. Race realism and Darwinism run through all of his books. The Caucasian race is considered the superior race, and miscegenation is frowned upon (except between whites and the equivalent superior race of the Moon or Mars). In the Moon Trilogy, the Earth is taken over by an inferior race of moon men, and in the final book of the series, The Red Hawk, the only solution to the problem is the complete genocide of the race of the moon men. No one in the book questions the wisdom of this. The moon men are able to interbreed with humans, and the half breeds also must all be killed in order to purify the planet. It’s wonderful stuff, and no one would ever write from this point of view today.

* * *

Edgar Rice Burroughs explains how he became an author, while underemployed as manufacturer’s representative for a pencil sharpener company:

I got writer’s cramp answering blind ads, and wore out my shoes chasing after others. At last l got placed as an agent for a lead pencil sharpener. I borrowed office space, and while subagents were out, trying unsuccessfully to sell the sharpener, I started to write my first story.

I had good reason for thinking I could sell what I wrote. I had gone thoroughly through some of the all-fiction magazines and I made up my mind that if people were paid for writing such rot as I read I could write stories just as rotten. Although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a lot more so than any I chanced to read in those magazines.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

September 19, 2018 at EDT pm

Posted in Books

Crappy vampire fiction

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https://www.wattpad.com/story/4459666-pure-complete

Looks like 80,000 people have read this thing. Riddled with typos and missing punctuation. Annoyingly flips point-of-view, even in the middle of chapters. Awful dialog. The protagonist, based on the first few chapters, is a “Mary Sue” type of character, the prettiest most powerful vampire that all the males, both vampire and human, lust after. Her only flaw is that she was fat and ugly when she was human.

On the other hand, I guess the author (perhaps a teenage girl?), despite lacking in technical competence, has given readers what they want, and done so with imagination and creativity and sex scenes (personal experience or just from reading a lot of romance fiction?). Just because I know how to punctuate a sentence doesn’t mean I can write a better serial novel.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

September 19, 2018 at EDT am

Posted in Books

Vampires vs. Werewolves

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Both topics are big on Wattpad, but I think I’m more qualified to write about Vampires. My qualifications being:

1. Watched six seasons of True Blood
2. Four seasons of the Vampire Diaries
3. A few episodes of The Originals (but couldn’t get into it)
4. All seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
5. All five seasons of Angel
6. Two seasons of Van Helsing
7. More than 150 episodes of the original Dark Shadows soap opera
8. The re-imagined Dark Shadows series from the 1980s (what a shame it didn’t last very long)
9. Kindred the Embraced (most underrated vampire show ever, highly recommended, starring Kelly Rutherford back when she was a beautiful young woman)
10. The Gates
11. Read Interview with the Vampire and watched the movie also.
12. Watched Twilight the movie.
13. Probably consumed additional vampire media that I don’t remember.

So if anyone has any questions about vampires, please ask away, I am sure I can give you a good answer.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

September 18, 2018 at EDT am

Posted in Books

I finished reading some guy’s Wattpad novel, my first

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It was like a watered-down version of the Robert Heinlein novel Farnham’s Freehold, with a teenage female protagonist. But for all practical purposes she was a guy with boobs.

There were a few typos here and there, and the author too often tries to use big words without fully understanding what they mean, but shamefully I enjoyed reading it. I guess there’s nothing wrong with the book that an editor and a few minor rewrites couldn’t fix.

I’m not sure I’ve learned anything about how to become a super-famous self-published writer of young-adult fiction, only a few hundred people have read the poor guy’s book. If anything, I learned that you can write a pretty decent novel and still not get any notice.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

September 17, 2018 at EDT pm

Posted in Books

I should have been writing on Wattpad

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Yesterday I spent some time exploring a site called Wattpad, a place where anyone can write a story that other people can read. It’s not surprising to me that there are people out there writing crappy fiction. For example, my next door neighbor at law school wrote a weird science fiction/romance novella, which was probably better than the vast majority of the stuff on Wattpad (although I only vaguely remember reading it). What’s surprising is that there’s actually an audience for amateur fiction. Primarily an audience of teenage and college-aged women.

How hard can it be to write a story about some girls in high school who become vampires? If I had put the effort into young-adult fiction that I put into this blog, I could have had hundreds of young female book groupies, instead of a few cranky old Jew haters following me. I should have put that high school creative writing class to use. But now, maybe, I am too old and have lost all of my creativity from non-use.

* * *

Just kidding about the vampires. Not to say that there isn’t a vast amount of vampire fiction out there, but I think I would be better at science fiction with girl protagonists. I should probably start by reading The Hunger Games so I can get a feel for the best of this genre.

* * *

It’s actually sort of comforting to know that, with the easy availability of Netflix, YouTube, videogames, Twitter, always-connected smartphones, etc., there are still young people, tens of millions of young people, reading fiction for entertainment.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

September 17, 2018 at EDT am

Posted in Books, Technology

Santa’s Husband

Kibblesmith’s illustrated children’s book, Santa’s Husband, published in 2017, deserves its own post.

Everyone knows that Santa Claus is jolly, but in Santa’s Husband, this cherished symbol of the holiday season is also black and gay, and married to an equally cheery man.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 13, 2018 at EDT am

Posted in Books

Omarosa, take 3

This is the third time she has been mentioned in the blog.

In 2004 I wrote: “If you recall The Apprentice, one of Omarosa’s great failings is that she was often more interested in eating a leisurely meal than working.”

In December, 2017 I wrote: “I vaguely remember watching the first season of the Apprentice. Omarosa was the woman who everyone else hated, and she was fired midway through the season because of her poor ability to get along with her team members.”

Now, of course, we know that her back-stabbing book is coming out next week. Is anyone surprised that she would backstab the man who made her famous in the first place?

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 10, 2018 at EDT pm

Posted in Books, Television

Impressions of Jordan Peterson

I haven’t finished his book 12 Rules for Life, and I haven’t watched any of his YouTube videos, and I could be completely wrong about everything, but here are my impressions.

Peterson is a secret believer in HBD and a not-secret believer in evolutionary psychology. Peterson is an atheist who sees Christianity as a good thing for providing people with a sense of community and with good moral values like the benefit of monogamous marriage.

Peterson grew up prole in a small town in Alberta (a place totally unlike Cicely Alaska, the fictional town in Northern Exposure), and his goal was to get out of his crappy small town with its stupid people and become an intellectual. But his proleness asserted itself and he was unable to join the groupthink of modern liberalism and believe in crazy SJW crap. Scott Adams and this blogger also come from prole backgrounds, it’s a very common background for independent thinkers of the new right.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

May 23, 2018 at EDT am

Posted in Books

Classic posts: Donald Trump vs. Gordon Gekko

I wrote this book review 14 years ago in May, 2004. It’s extra interesting to re-read this because it’s about Donald Trump. At the time I never would have predicted that Donald Trump would someday be President of the United States. So you can see here what I thought about Trump before politics were involved.

* * *

As a birthday present, my sister sent me the book How to Get Rich, by Donald Trump. Sadly, the book did not reveal any roadmap to getting rich, nor even any tidbits of advice that have not already been written before by others.

The book contains a lot of very short chapters, each containing what Trump considers a pearl of wisdom, but none of these pearls of wisdom are the least bit original or eye opening. The book is a mishmash of management advice, lifestyle advice, negotiating tips, factoids about Trump the person, a week in Trump’s life, and an inside (but not very deep inside) look at The Apprentice.

The book only gets interesting when Trump confesses some weird facts about his personal life. I found it very interesting that Trump hates shaking hands, because he says that it spreads germs. I also discovered that Trump is fond of junk food, and he will eat nothing at a fancy dinner, and instead head home and have a bag of pretzels. He also reveals a fondness for McDonalds. Yesterday evening I had Coke and pretzels for dinner, and thanks to Trump’s new book, I felt good about it.

After reading the book, it occurred to me that the movie Wall Street is a better and more entertaining source of information on how to get rich. Most of the important pieces of advice covered by Trump are also covered in the movie.

Wall Street is the story of Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen. Fox is a stockbroker who is not doing too well, but who very much wants to get rich. Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas (who won an Academy Award for the role), is a Donald Trump-like tycoon who takes Fox under his wing and teaches him the ropes. One could say that Fox is his apprentice.

Early in the book, Trump writes about the importance of having a good executive assistant, who screens his phone calls among other things. In Wall Street, Gekko’s executive assistant is Natalie, who steadfastly prevents Fox from getting to speak with Gekko. Fox finally gets past her when he shows up at Gekko’s office on his birthday, with a box of Cuban cigars for a birthday present.

It is interesting to note that the sign in Gekko’s office reads “Gekko & Co.”, while Trump’s company is named The Trump Organization. Both Gekko and Trump have big egos, so they both name their companies after themselves. The difference is that Trump’s ego is bigger than Gekko’s. Trump puts his name on everything. Instead of the movie tycoon being a parody of the real life tycoon, the real life tycoon is a parody of the movie tycoon.

The most important theme in the management section of the book is about hiring and retaining the best employees. Gekko also has the best people working for him. During Fox’s initial meeting with Gekko, Gekko introduces him to his trader, Ollie. “Doesn’t look like it, huh? This guy’s the best.”

Donald Trump recommends that you wear expensive clothes, and specifically endorses Brioni. (Have you ever priced Brioni at Neiman Marcus? That stuff is expensive.) Gordon Gekko tells Bud Fox to get better suits. “And buy a decent suit. You can’t come in here looking like this.” This is despite the fact that Fox already wears $400 suits, which is a lot of money for a suit in 1980s dollars.

Donald Trump writes, “I rarely go out for lunch. I still consider it an interruption in my workday.” Gordon Gekko says more simply, but much more memorably, “lunch is for wimps.” If you recall The Apprentice, one of Omarosa’s great failings is that she was often more interested in eating a leisurely meal than working.

Donald Trump advises you to “know every aspect of what you’re doing.” Gordon Gekko says “the most valuable commodity I know of is information.”

Donald Trump writes, “when somebody hurts you, go after them as viciously and as violently as you can. Like it says in the Bible, an eye for an eye.” An important part of the plot of Wall Street is Gekko’s quest for revenge against corporate raider Lawrence Wildman.

Donald Trump advises you to get a prenuptial agreement before getting married. Trump’s friend tells him “Donald, I’m so in love with this woman that I don’t need a prenuptial agreement.” Donald writes, “I didn’t have the courage to tell him what I was thinking to myself. Loser!” Gordon Gekko says that love is “a fiction created by people to prevent themselves from jumping out of windows.” We can be sure that Gekko has a prenuptial agreement.

Trump and Gekko both see relationships as a business deal in which money buys a gorgeous girlfriend, wife, or mistress. Gekko explains to Fox that one of the benefits of being rich is that he will be able to “afford a girl like Darien.” Darien Taylor is the interior decorator played by the very beautiful Daryl Hannah, and definitely the “best that money can buy.” (However, Frank McCourt, the author of Angela’s Ashes, back when he was my high school English teacher, said that Daryl Hannah was “just another tall blonde.”)

Trump’s book includes several chapters of advice on public speaking. He covers the basic public speaking tips, such as to be enthusiastic, entertain your audience, and not to read from a prepared speech. In a scene from Wall Street, Gekko addresses the stockholders of Teldar, a company he is trying to buy out. The scene begins with Cromwell, the CEO of Teldar, giving a boring speech. He stands before the podium, frequently looking down, presumably reading from a prepared text. Then Gekko takes the microphone, and we see Michael Douglas, who plays Gekko, give one of the greatest speeches ever to grace cinema.

Although Gekko isn’t reading from any notes, it may be pointed out that Michael Douglas, the actor, has memorized a written screenplay. However, the difference between a regular person giving a speech, and Michael Douglas giving this incredible performance, is that Michael Douglas is an Academy Award winning actor performing from a screenplay written by professional Hollywood writers. Don’t think for a minute that you can write your own speech, then read it, and be anything but incredibly boring. Even President Ronald Reagan, also known as the Great Communicator, and an actor himself before he became a politician, was at his best when he was ad-libbing and not reading from a teleprompter.

In his book, Trump reveals that he wakes up every morning at five o’clock. In Wall Street, Gekko calls Fox at sunrise, waking him up. Gekko’s first words are “money never sleeps.” Rich people are too busy making money to waste time sleeping. The wakeup call scene from Wall Street is one of many in which it is subtly revealed that Fox just isn’t made of tough enough stuff to become rich like Gekko.

In writing this comparison between Donald Trump and Gordon Gekko, it would be incomplete if I didn’t address the issue that Gordon Gekko was supposed to be the bad guy. A very simplistic synopsis of Wall Street is that Gekko is the crooked business tycoon, and Fox is the innocent lamb who initially falls under Gekko’s evil spell, but eventually, with the help of wise advice from his upstanding father, he sees Gekko for the crook that he is, and betrays him. Fox will probably have to go to jail himself, but those are his just desserts. With Fox’s assistance to the SEC, Gekko will also probably wind up in jail.

That’s the simplistic synopsis. The way I see it, despite the left-wing anti-business message that Oliver Stone may have intended, and one that Michael Douglas may have agreed with, Michael Douglas transcended the screenplay and gave Gordon Gekko his own life and reality. Oliver Stone explains in the additional features that come with the DVD that he wanted to leave the morality of the movie open ended. When the investigator from the SEC tells Fox that he “did the right thing” by helping to gather evidence against Gekko, the audience is supposed to wonder if he truly did the right thing.

Comparing Donald Trump to Gordon Gekko, it is Gekko who seems like the real person, and Trump who comes off as the fictional character. Trump’s big ego and penchant for putting his name on everything seem a tad bit too overblown to be part of the real world. So if Gekko is a villain, what does that make Trump?

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

May 16, 2018 at EDT pm

Posted in Books, Uncategorized

I Am Charlotte Simmons by the late Tom Wolfe

Classic Lion: My review of I Am Charlotte Simmons by the late Tom Wolfe, which I wrote in 2004.

Part I

It has been a long time since I’ve read a book that was so good that I didn’t want to do anything else but read it until I was finished with it. But along came I am Charlotte Simmons which I started reading aboard an Amtrak train on Thanksgiving morning, and 676 pages later I finally finished it on Monday evening.

Tom Wolfe’s third novel is at least as good, if not better, than his first, Bonfire of the Vanities, and is head and shoulders above A Man In Full. Anyone who has read the first two novels will recognize the framework of Charlotte Simmons. Once again, Tom Wolfe tells the story of several individuals whose lives become intertwined. Each chapter is written from the point of view of one of his main characters, but always Tom Wolfe’s point of view is also there.

Even though there are similarities, Tom Wolfe took a big stretch with this book. In his previous novels, he wrote about the hidden worlds of real estate development, investment banking, and the Bronx DA’s office. (I remember serving an internship at the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, and everyone said how accurately Tom Wolfe captured what it’s like to be a DA in one of New York City’s outer boroughs.) In his previous novels, his main characters were men, but this time, the main character in his book is an eighteen year old girl attending fictional Dupont University (think Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or Duke). What a stretch for a man of 73 to put himself into the mind of an eighteen year old girl. I can’t help but imagine that life in the college dorms was more alien to Tom Wolfe than any other place he ever visited.

But because so many more people are familiar with college, or at least think they are, Tom Wolfe has opened himself up to a lot more criticism. And the criticism has come in droves. It seem like every professional reviewer has been determined to completely trash this book, and even the amateur reviewers at Amazon.com have been highly critical.

The first notable bad review, written by Michiko Kakutani, was published in The New York Times two weeks before the book was even released to the public. How eager the critics were to trash this book before anyone even had a chance to read it.

Michiko wrote, “This time, instead of boldly going where few writers have gone before, he gives us some tiresomely generic if hyperbolic glimpses of student life at a fictional school . . .” The implication is that books like this are being written every day, but I can’t think of any book similar to Charlotte Simmons, and certainly Michiko doesn’t name any in her review. Maybe she’s just jealous of Tom Wolfe’s mastery of the English language, his gift for turning ordinary scenes into the fantastic, and his ability glue his readers to the pages of books where nothing much really seems to happen.

Michiko also wrote, “. . . in the course of a very long 676 pages [, Tom Wolfe] serves up the revelation — yikes! — that students crave sex and beer, love to party, wear casual clothes and use four-letter words.” Yes, this is a common complaint from many of the critics. Everyone knows that college is about sex and beer, what’s new here? But does everyone really believe that life at an elite school (think Ivy League) is really like it’s depicted in Charlotte Simmons?

Yes, we’ve all seen the movie Animal House. (At least we adults who read blogs have seen it. Charlotte Simmons obviously didn’t see it. We imagine that her religious mother didn’t let her watch R rated movies.) But Animal House is a parody, it’s not real. The scenes in Charlotte Simmons are a lot more powerful than Animal Housebecause they are real scenes.

But some people don’t think this is real. In one of the ironies of the negative reviews, while some like Ms Kakutani say “duh! of course that’s what’s happening at colleges,” other reviews criticize the book for being unrealistic. In another review in the New York Times, Jacob Weisberg says that this is a “comic book version of college” and not the real thing.

And I really love this quote from a reviewer at Amazon.com:

If you’re a parent getting ready to send a child off to college don’t panic. “NOT ALL STUDENTS ARE LIKE THOSE REPERSENTED IN THIS BOOK.” I am a mechanic that has made many service calls to several colleges. Most of my calls to colleges have been to Marquette University in Milwaukee Wisconsin. While I am aware that some of the students at this school could be those represented in this book, my experience is that most students are not like those represented in this book. Most of the students I have dealt at Marquette appear to take their chance at a college education as a serious privilege.

This guy thinks he has the expertise to say that Tom Wolfe has gotten college life at elite Ivy League schools wrong because he’s a mechanic who has visited a second rate Catholic school in Wisconsin.

In fact, Marquette University may very well be like the Dupont that Charlotte Simmons’ mother imagined, except with the students not being quite so bright. Marquette University would be the last place that privileged students from elite boarding schools would wind up attending. The students at Marquette are probably from middle class families who bring their conventional middle class values with them to college.

I’ve written about these conventional middle class values before in my essay “Jessica Cutler and the values of Washington.” This is an excerpt:

[T]here is a huge gap between how voters think people on Capitol Hill are behaving, and the way they really behave.

Why should there be such a gap? Didn’t people hear about Monica Lewinsky, Chandra Levy, and a variety of other Washington sex scandals? Shouldn’t they know by now that a large percentage of important and semi-important men in Washington are having sex with women in their twenties? Don’t they know by now that a large percentage of female interns and other low paid female workers in resume building jobs are the opposite of pure and virginal?

No, people don’t know this because it’s not what they want to believe. They want to believe that Washington is full of people who behave consistently with conventional middle class values. These values dictate that you should work hard, be honest, believe in God, be moderate in the consumption of alcohol, remain a virgin until you get married, and thereafter remain faithful to your spouse.

Tom Wolfe, being nearly as brilliant a sociologist as myself (and admittedly a ten times more brilliant writer), has written a book about the exact same conflict of values between the elite and the middle class that I previously wrote about in my blog.

I found a comment left at the blog Critical Mass that offers an excellent observation:

I think Wolfe is a lot more on the mark than older people would like to admit. Let’s call it willful ignorance, but, having recently graduated college, I don’t think people realize how morally, ethically and intellectually depraved a large swath of college students (and, coincidentally, the faculty) really are. Wolfe may be focusing just on one part of the population, but that population may be a plurality on most campuses (even the most respected ones). I knew plenty of people who never went to class, didn’t do any work, drank had sex and did drugs in excess…..everything that runs counter to the “noble academic institution” most people believe college is and should be.

And here’s an excerpt from another review left at Amazon.com, which offers the best commentary that I have yet seen:

I am a huge Tom Wolfe fan who happens to be a girl from a small town who went to/ is still at the University of Pennsylvania. Let me tell you, his descriptions of college life are very accurate. I had thought, going to an Ivy League , I would be with the best and the brightest…I was not expecting to be stuck in a crazy puke-filled dorm where people act like animals, and are loud, drunk, and totally inconsiderate of those around them. To go from a town where people actually ACT like human beings to a college dorm like this is a sad, disappointing journey- one that is not always expected. At least it’s not expected if you don’t live around people who couldn’t live without alcohol. It’s NOT unrealistic for Wolfe to make Charlotte so innocent because that’s how SOME decent college students are before they are exposed to vulgar, barbarian frat boys at college who do things MUCH worse than anything described in this book. To me, and to Charlotte, it is TRAGIC to go to a good school and see people who are such total drunk immature wastes, people who drag others down without thinking twice about it.

Unlike most reviews, here is one written by an actual college student at an actual elite institution who has come from a small town just like Charlotte Simmons did. And she says the book is dead on accurate.

The conclusion of Part I of my review of I am Charlotte Simmons is that the negative reviewers are wrong about the book’s take on campus life. It’s not a comic book look at college, but the real thing. And the hedonism of college life is absolutely notcommon knowledge among the middle class of America.

Part II

Is Charlotte unbelievably naïve?

One of the frequent complaints about this novel is that Charlotte is unbelievably naïve, and this ruins the whole book. How can someone with a 1600 SAT, it is reasoned, not realize that there’s sex going on at college? Doesn’t she have a TV set that picks up the same programs that everyone else in the United States watches?

I found Charlotte’s naïveté perfectly believable, and the fact that some people just don’t get it indicates how big of a cultural divide we really have in America, and shows that there are smart educated people who are completely unable to understand how people from backgrounds different than themselves think.

First of all, yes Charlotte had a perfect 1600 on the SAT, but we all know that there are people who are very book smart yet somehow are completely lacking in what they call street smarts. The Adam Gellin “nerd” character in the book is one such example, and it’s interesting to note that although everyone has been criticizing Tom Wolfe’s depiction of Charlotte, I have not yet read a single review where someone said that Adam Gellin was not a believable character.

And yes, Charlotte has a television, but she wouldn’t have cable television because her parents are too poor. Now think about what shows exist on regular broadcast TV that would prepare anyone for what Tom Wolfe wrote about in his book, and what real college students at elite universities say is an accurate depiction. I can’t think of any!

Broadcast TV is actually the very embodiment of those conventional middle class values that I wrote about in part I of the review. Just about everyone on broadcast TV believes in God, consumes alcohol only moderately if at all, has sex only in a very committed relationship, and of course no one on TV has ever, ever, ever had an abortion.

On the TV show Beverly Hills 90210, the classic show about young people, the Tori Spelling character didn’t lose her virginity until many many seasons had passed, and it was with her high school sweetheart who had been her boyfriend for eons.

Furthermore, who even knows if Beverly Hills 90210 was the kind of show that Charlotte’s mother let her watch? Charlotte’s mother, being the strict heavily religious type, probably censored her children’s TV viewing. I’m sure that she never permitted her kids to see any R rated movies. Although they probably never went out to the movies anyway because they were so poor.

Most kids learn about what other kids are really doing not from television, but from other kids! And Tom Wolfe explained in the book how Charlotte had no friends in high school except Laurie who was also a religious type. Because she was so smart in a small town where everyone else was dumb, she obviously had nothing in common with the other kids, which adequately explains her lack of friends and her inexperience with boys.

We also have to realize that Charlotte had no contact with anyone from the upper middle class or the upper class, and these were the classes to which the vast majority of students at the fictional Dupont belonged. In Charlotte’s small town, she saw only two classes: the middle class (based on values, not family wealth) and the lower class. Because the middle class has so much better manners than the lower class, she extrapolated and assumed that the manners of the upper classes would be that much better! Charlotte didn’t realize that the middle class is actually the most boring of all classes.

It is true that Tom Wolfe uses a naïve main character as a device that allows him to express his own shock at what he saw going on at college. Tom Wolfe may be an old guy of 73, but he’s a whole lot more sophisticated than Charlotte. He’s seen all the R rated movies like Animal House that Charlotte didn’t, and he has even hung out with Black Panthers. If Tom Wolfe is shocked at the outrageousness of college behavior, then someone from Charlotte’s background would be even more so.

I now offer the following passage from an article in the Stanford school newspaper:

[F]reshman Lindsay Reinsmith thought the central storyline — depicting Charlotte’s struggle to adapt to life outside a small town — was a plausible one. Reinsmith hails from The Woodlands, Tx., a small Houston suburb, which she described as “predominantly Christian conservative and very sheltered.”

Reinsmith said many of her high school classmates rarely ventured outside city limits, and she, like Charlotte, was shocked by college life.

“After a lot of my friends left The Woodlands, they were startled by the open way other people dealt with social issues, especially sex, at college,” she said. “They didn’t really know how to approach the issue because they were never taught how.”

Once again, an actual student at an actual elite university agreeing with the accuracy of Tom Wolfe’s characters.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

May 15, 2018 at EDT pm

Posted in Books

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