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I am Charlotte Simmons

Now I'm reading I Am Charlotte Simmons, by Tom Wolfe.  I have a feeling Wolfe's last book, Back To Blood, may have tarnished his reputation a bit because it did not live up to his past efforts in writing, like in Bonfire of the Vanities.  But Bonfire wasn't that good either.  I love all his books, though.  They are like wine.  They get better with age, and you know some people like drinking wine that tastes like dirt, because then they know all about the soil.  The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt is one of my favourite books ever.  He has a character who is a crazy prospector, who pours boiling water over dirt and thinks it's coffee.  He's been out prospecting so long that he's gone crazy and has convinced himself that dirt is coffee.  It's so hilarious.  He has found so much gold in the hills and he's going to San Francisco to spend it and he knows exactly how he'll spend it.  He's got a list.  Number 8 or nine on the list is nobody's business but his.  I've never actually had wine that tasted like dirt, maybe I heard it wrong.  Maybe you can tell what the dirt is like by drinking wine.

SIMILARLY, there is something strange about Wolfe's writing.  The characters he creates are like stereotypes, like he takes every stereotype about a class of people and put them into one person.  But I love it anyway.  He got his degree in American Literature.  He wrote The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, which is also one of my favourites.  It's about a journey across America.  It's like he is documenting America in his novels with his characters jam packed with Americana, and reading the novels at the time they come out might be upsetting, because you don't want to stand back from your vantage point and look at the times in which you live.  WHEREAS, reading Bonfire of the Vanities, which was written in the 80's about the 80's a sober and objective look at the 80's and that stilted and lurching writing with all those characters, it's better because you have the soothing balm of time between you and the 80's or maybe you weren't even alive then.

Well, I still have to read The Right Stuff, by him, and I hope he writes another big one before he kicks the bucket. 

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