Last Thursday I went on the popular "John Moore Show," which is based here in Toronto. My impressions of John were very positive overall, as he seemed a perfectly nice man (early 40s, thinking of getting a dog, etc). Still, our shmooze before the show foreshadowed his not being so sympathetic to my views. For during the course of this shmooze, I learned two important facts:
1.) John had read my book "diagonally," i.e., he had flipped through it.
2.) John intended to "donate" his diagonally-read copy to the library. (This came up because he asked me for another copy, which I offered to sign, at which point John told me not to sign because he already had a copy at home and its destination was the local library.)
Now, reading a book "diagonally" is no crime, especially for a radio talk show host. (I was actually pretty impressed that John had taken the time to skim.) But when skimming is combined with a direct rejection of an author's signature--and an eagerness to get the book out of the house--that is what is known as a Red Flag.
Still, sometimes a little hostility can make the conversation interesting and talking with John proved to be no exception. At one point on the show, when I brought up the problem of being "sexiled" from your dorm room (having to leave because your roommate is hooking up) John said sarcastically, "Yes, I know, I've read Charlotte Simmons, too." As if this were not a real problem and something Tom Wolfe had recently invented.
John's bringing up I Am Charlotte Simmons so dismissively reminded me of the reviews of the novel, which were quite negative--and revealing, I thought.
For example, here was Mr. Blake Morrison in a scathing Guardian review: "However squalid her violation, however betrayed and depressed she
feels, one's instinctive response is: get over it, Charlotte."
If you didn't know better from the high pitch of his scorn, you might think that Mr. Morrison was writing about a real person, but she was only Charlotte from I Am Charlotte Simmons, a fictional girl who is sexually betrayed and humiliated.
Get over it, indeed. Today, people are so emotionally repressed, they are even annoyed by fictional characters who care. The author of this nauseating review was a 55-year-old man, who also referred to Charlotte’s virginity derisively as her "cherry," as in-- "We know she’ll lose her cherry sooner or later.” Well, that's certainly very perceptive of him. I suppose that most people who aren't nuns usually do, eventually.
I found it fascinating that nearly all of the scathing reviews of Tom Wolfe's book came from Baby Boomers, whereas young people, by all accounts, said that his portrayal of college life was, unfortunately, all too accurate. Lingering guilt about the consequences of the sexual revolution, anyone?
And make no mistake: coeds in real life get it worse. Many girls today suspect that something is wrong with them if they are unwilling to engage in casual sex. Surrounded by a media which has made pornography mainstream, told by their friends that they they have “hang-ups” and must “get over it,” or by professors that they are too “romantic” or “idealistic,” girls today are facing a culture which claims to be “liberated,” but could scarcely be more misogynistic.
And no, I don't think this is something we should be getting "over" anytime soon.