20 Bad Books By Good Authors

I Am Charlotte Simmons

Author: Tom Wolfe
Released: 2004

The guy who wrote The Bonfire of The Vanities—introducing the world to the horrid ways of Wall Street at its peak insipidness—took his careful eye to spend over 600 pages on...southern college sorority life? Oh, yes.

Despite extensive research by Wolfe talking to many a college student—or maybe because of it—the unimaginative book comes off like, well, like an old man looking into college life. For example: Despite feminist sympathies, Wolfe wrote one of the most hapless female protagonists ever in the title character, who gives up her virgnity, gets dumped, gets depressed, doesn't do well in her first semester, and so on, but will eventually go on to learn Life Lessons.

Oh, about that ostensibly hot college sex? Wolfe won an award for Bad Sex Scenes in writing for this book. Don't take our word for it: Critics called it "flat-footed," "cheap," "lackadaisical," and "dated." And that was just in the Times review. —Foster Kamer

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