Friday, April 21, 2006

The Duke Scandal and Tom Wolfe

There's kind of an odd cottage industry springing up in comparisons between Tom Wolfe's novels and the Duke lacrosse scandal. At last count, Google showed 10,800 sites with the phrases "Duke lacrosse" and "Tom Wolfe" in them.

Most commentators have drawn the easy analogy between Duke's alleged campus debauchery and that depicted in Wolfe's latest novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons. Others see parallels to all three of Wolfe's novels. Not me.

The problem with the Wolfe comparisons is that even at his worst (i.e., I Am Charlotte Simmons), Wolfe is incapable of writing a story with characters who are this cartoonish. Everywhere you look, you've got somebody behaving in the most reprehensible manner imaginable. You just feel like you want to take a shower whenever you hear anything about anybody associated with this case (via Deadspin).

Frankly, the whole thing has a lot more in common with Jerry Springer than with Tom Wolfe. Truth may be stranger than fiction, but in this case, it isn't nearly as well written.

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