Tom Wolfe to world: it’s not bad, it’s ironic

I was going to ignore the latest round of I Am Charlotte Simmons whoring, but Emma‘s take is too good to pass up:

Tom Wolfe joins the ever growing “flagrantly inaccurate use of the word irony” club.

See also:

  • A Wolfe partisan’s different perspective:

    I love his response here. And who the hell says that Americans have no sense of irony? Unless that statement was meant to be ironic. Or maybe the judges really are aware that the sex scenes were intentionally bad, so they ironically awarded the Bad Sex award to Wolfe, who failed to pick up on the irony. Or maybe Wolfe did pick up on the irony, and his annoyance is meant to be ironic.

  • Theo Tait’s Rutrutrutrutrutrutrutrut in the current LRB:

    Tom Wolfe is, in many ways, an outrageous figure — with his white suit and cane, his glib social analyses, and his delusions of grandeur. For three decades he has been saying that his minutely researched books herald ‘a revolution’ in literature, which is bound to ‘sweep the arts in America, making many prestigious artists . . . appear effete and irrelevant’. Over the years, a lot of these effete and irrelevant artists — John Updike, Norman Mailer, Jonathan Franzen — have launched tirades against him. The most concise comes from John Irving, commenting red-faced and furious on live TV: ‘Wolfe’s problem is, he can’t bleeping write! He’s not a writer! Just crack one of his bleeping books! Try reading one bleeping sentence! You’ll gag before you can finish it! He doesn’t even write literature — he writes . . . yak! He doesn’t write novels — he writes journalistic hyperbole!’ These comments, graciously reported by Wolfe himself, don’t seem entirely fair to me. They do, however, perfectly describe his bloody awful new novel I am Charlotte Simmons.


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.