John Dugdale

Emma Bovery as a Dixie Chick

I Am Charlotte Simmons

By

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AFTER ANATOMISING REAGAN-ERA New York (The Bonfire of the Vanities) and the ascendant New South (A Man in Full), Tom Wolfe devotes his third novel to a fictional university in Pennsylvania. A lesser challenge? Far from it. For this is not only a rare instance of campus fiction that concentrates on the students (most, as the work of author-academics or writers in residence, is inevitably don-fixated): it also entails a remarkable double leap across genders and generations in order for the 73-year-old novelist to inhabit the mind and body (and indeed clothes, invariably meticulously described) of his eighteen-year-old heroine.

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