August 28, 2006

A man in shorts.

Reading Tom Wolfe's "I Am Charlotte Simmons," I was amused to run across this description of a man wearing shorts. (At page 99.)
All that elegance was what made the personage of Dr. Lewin seem so curious. Last week, when the class first met, he had worn a plaid cotton shirt and pants -- nothing remarkable about that. The shirt had had long sleeves, and the pants had been long pants. But this morning he had on a short-sleeved shirt that showed too much of his skinny, hairy arms, and denim shorts that showed too much of this gnarly, hairy legs. He looked for all the world like a seven-year-old who at the touch of a wand had become old, tall, bald on top, and hairy everywhere else, an ossified seven-year-old, a pair of eyeglasses with lenses thick as ice pushed up to the summit of his forehead -- unaccountably addressing thirty college students, at Dupont, no less.

20 comments:

john(lesser) said...

Not all professors are old and hairy. Some are hairless with cankles.

Maxine Weiss said...

You, who hate fiction?

And, you're 100 pages in....

Good for you!

And, that's a long one, I noticed, almost something like 800 pages in large-print.

I had a bad experience with Tom Wolfe---as a reader, and I don't find him attractive, from his photo on the back cover, and John Updike says he is simply entertainment, not literature.

So, unfortunately, Wolfe is not one of my guys.

But, I think it's great that you are reading him, and hope you will continue to blog the experience.

Peace, Maxine

Ann Althouse said...

I don't hate all fiction, I'm just suspicious of novelists. Remember, I was married to one. Anyway, I'm listening to the Audible recording -- done very well by Dylan Baker. I listen to it while going for a long walk or while falling asleep.

As for whether Tom Wolfe is attractive: he doesn't wear shorts.

And I've liked him for a long time -- based on nonfiction. Chiefly: "The Painted Word" and "From Bauhaus to Our House."

Jeff said...

I'll stop wearing shorts when women stop wearing pants.

ignacio said...

Listening is not the same as reading.

Palladian said...

Well, I know what not to wear to my first class next week. Not that I wear shorts outside of the house ever, but just in case the urge seizes me.

"From Bauhaus to Our House" is a brilliant little book. I do admire some of the architects he criticizes (Mies Van Der Rohe) and dislike some that he valorizes (Edward Durell Stone), but his basic premise is sympathetic and the writing makes it moreso.

"I Am Charlotte Simmons" won the myopic "Bad Sex in Fiction" award from the London based "Literary Journal" a couple of years ago.

Ann Althouse said...

It doesn't make much sense to give the award to a writer who's trying to portray sex in a negative way.

Ignacio: You prig!

Palladian said...

Yeah, that's what I meant when I called it myopic. I couldn't believe they made such a stupid choice, though given the source of the award, I take it they were above reading the kinds of books with bad descriptions of sex that are not intended to be negative.

Revenant said...

John Updike says he is simply entertainment, not literature.

Of course, almost nothing that was viewed as Great Art at the time it was made is actually remembered a couple generations later. Most of the Literature I studied in high school and college was nothing more than the Entertainment of earlier generations.

Besides, can there be any doubt that Updike's appeal would have been considerably less if his own work didn't frequently have prurient appeal?

charlotte said...

I believe Updike is a relative of some sort, so back to Wolfe and how some days I agree with him that Bauhaus was "inflicted" upon us. But, then, there are those city days when it's clear modern-German vernacular was bestowed upon us and merely overstayed its welcome.

As for men in shorts, only on the tennis court, please! Yesterday, I went to a wine quaffing/ chugging event at a GA mountain vineyard, and too many men were wearing shorts and looking silly and wan, preppy-forced and tanned, or gay and all too happy to show leg and the perfect loafer. (I think gay men who only wear pants are brilliant.)

Pants are male, skirts female; women can do both, but not men. Is this etched into our DNA by now, or is it just a chauvinist western construct-thang? Consider how there are robe-wearing men of the ME who are vying for world power and not commanding our respect.

Palladian said...

"I think gay men who only wear pants are brilliant."

Thank you!

"Pants are male, skirts female; women can do both, but not men."

Oh really?

"Is this etched into our DNA by now, or is it just a chauvinist western construct-thang?"

Human sartorial customs do not get etched into our genetic code.

"Consider how there are robe-wearing men of the ME who are vying for world power and not commanding our respect."

Robe-wearing men don't command our respect?

37383938393839383938383 said...

First of all, I am sick of the word sartorial. I have seen it everywhere these past few days. If I wanted a word-a-day calendar, I would buy one.

Second: "It doesn't make much sense to give the award to a writer who's trying to portray sex in a negative way."

True. It makes much more sense to give the award to a writer who won't stop mentioning Ann Althouse's feet.

Maxine Weiss said...

Well, I'm confused:

Is the award for the best example of bad sex in fiction.....or just a bad description ???

Tom Wolfe is a die-hard Republican. If what you want is hot and steamy prose, good grief don't read a Republican.

Lord knows, I want Republican's running the Government, but when it comes to sex, nobody writes it like a Democrat!

Peace, Maxine

Palladian said...

sartorial, sartorial, sartorial!

Nothing better than a good old fashioned adjectified Latin word!

Palladian said...

"Lord knows, I want Republican's running the Government, but when it comes to sex, nobody writes it like a Democrat!"

Probably because they don't get enough of the real thing. If you want good sex, look for non-political partners. This might go for sex writers as well. Someone who is too far to the left is just using sex to get you to accept socialism. Which, ironically, will leave your society in the same state the sex will leave you: f**ked.

charlotte said...

"Oh really?"
"Robe-wearing men don't command our respect?"

LOL, Palladian. I loved your Cat boiler and chiffon comment on a previous thread, but what about "The Early History of the Kilt" and how nearly no men here go around in skirts did you miss? (Excepting Althouse's photographic catch of a kilted man not too long ago, but that's Madison, mind you.)

And, Jesus Almighty, forget the ancient Greeks and nearly as old SCOTUS judges, do you mean to tell us our Savior from a couple of thousand years ago didn't wear chinos? My faith is wavering~~~

JohnF said...

I think listening is different from reading. I know when I read I am focused in a way that I am not when I'm listening to a book on the old 'Pod (which I do in the car; where I live, it takes a half hour to get anywhere). The result is that complex stories (like the Dorothy Sayers I'm in the middle of now) don't "stick" as well as when I read. Maybe that's not an issue with Tom Wolfe, though.

P. T. Fogger said...

I don't get this animus towards shorts on men. . . .

Try living in South Carolina in the summer, or Georgia, or anywhere down South, without 'em. If you're going to spend more than car-to-door time outside, you learn to love them.

Impacted Wisdom Truth said...

"Lord knows, I want Republican's running the Government, but when it comes to sex, nobody writes it like a Democrat!"

Well, Democrats may write about sex better than 'Pubs, but are not better in practice.

Remember George magazine? I read an article in that mag about eight or nine years ago. The article was an interview with a prostitute that worked both the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

She says the Republicans are more fun than the Democrats. The Republicans still think sex is naughty and they therefore indulge it with more passion. She said business is better at the Republican convention.

As for Democrats, she said that half of them are gay and the other half spend their time screwing each other; so business with the Democrats was bad. Besides, the Democrats were no fun because they don't think sex is naughty and are accordingly blasé about it.

Ernst Blofeld said...

IACS was better than the reviews had it, and Updike is wrong if he thinks it just an entertainment. But I wish someone would confiscate Wolfe's copy of Gray's Anatomy. The latissimus dorsi and iliac crest references wears after a while.