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Hooking Up ()


    Mr. Wolfe peremptorily declares that by the year 2000 in America, "the average electrician,
    air-conditioning mechanic, or burglar-alarm repairman lived a life that would have made the Sun
    King blink," guzzling pints of expensive designer water and spending "his vacations in Puerto
    Vallarta, Barbados, or St. Kitts" (never mind the millions of Americans without health insurance).
        -REVIEW : of Hooking Up by Tom Wolfe (Michiko Kakutani, NY Times)

In all fairness, let me first state that I love Tom Wolfe.  But I also think Michiko Kakutani is just about the best book reviewer around.  Though the literati object to the moralistic tone of some of her reviews, it seems to me that she's just treating books with the seriousness they deserve and judging them by an exacting, but fair, standard.  But look at that blurb above, where she's discussing the title essay of Hooking Up : why is it that Wolfe, uniquely among modern authors, reduces people to the point of self-caricature ?  I mean, if Tom Wolfe were satirizing a NY Times critic, he might include that "millions of Americans without health insurance" bit.  Does anyone, not completely seduced by ideology, really believe that the current state of American culture is defined by the persistence of the uninsured ?

Luckily for her, Ms Kakutani was relatively favorable in her treatment of A Man in Full, so she manages to avoid the evisceration that Wolfe administers to the "Three Stooges" : Norman Mailer, John Updike and John Irving.  Mailer, in the New York Review of Books, and Updike, in The New Yorker, both argued that Wolfe's last novel was somehow not literature, that it was mere "journalism" or "entertainment."  After Wolfe responded rather harshly, Irving came to their defense in a fairly bizarre television interview for Canadian Broadcasting.  Wolfe takes full advantage of the opportunity to wreak vengeance on all three here.  His essential argument, which he first developed in his essay Stalking the Billion-footed Beast, is that such authors wasted their careers by writing completely insular and "literary" novels instead of writing more naturally, exploiting the techniques of journalism and getting out and experiencing life in the America that they presume to write about.  As always, he's hilarious and he easily gets the best of these three extravagantly overrated old lions.

That exercise is enjoyable enough, but pretty minor.  The real reason to buy the book is because his great novella Ambush at Fort Bragg finally sees print.  Here's what I said about it in a prior review.

Also included here, and reprinted for the first time, are his reputation making essays from 1965 : Tiny Mummies! The True Story of the Ruler of 43rd Street's Land of the Walking Dead! and Lost in the Whichy Thickets: The New Yorker.  This two part satire of the New Yorker--which ran in New York Magazine when it had just been spun off from the old New York Herald Tribune--early on established Wolfe as a scourge of the intellectual class and represented a seminal moment in the birth of New Journalism.  Most important, they are very funny, particularly if you, like nearly everyone else outside of New York City drawing rooms, find The New Yorker deadly dull.

Add all these pieces together and toss in a couple other recent works and you've got a fine collection by a brilliant observer of modern American culture.  Here's hoping he finishes the new novel he's working on.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A+)

  

Websites:

See also:

Tom Wolfe (7 books reviewed)
Essays
Tom Wolfe Links:

    -ESSAY: The Building That Isn't There (TOM WOLFE, 10/12/03, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: The Building That Isn't There, Cont'd: One of the most important buildings in the history of 20th-century architecture will soon be vaporized. (TOM WOLFE, 10/13/03, NY Times)
    -AUDIO: A TimesTalks Event: Tom Wolfe (NY Times, 3/08/03)
    -QUESTIONS: Tom Wolfe: Following his participation in the TimesTalks series on March 8, the author answered NYTimes.com readers' questions. (NY Times, April 24, 2003)
    -ESSAY: REVOLUTIONARIES: how the Manhattan Institute changed New York City and America (Tom Wolfe, January 30, 2003, NY Post)
    -ESSAY: Idea Fashions of the Eighties: After Marx, What? (Tom Wolfe, January 1984, Imprimis)
    -PROFILE: Status Reporter: Tom Wolfe's advice: Escape the "parenthesis states" and explore America (JOSEPH RAGO, March 11, 2006, Opinion Journal)
    -INTERVIEW: Mummy Wrap: an interview with Tom Wolfe (George Neumayr, 1/10/2005, American Spectator)
    -ESSAY: Bush's Official Reading List, and a Racy Omission (ELISABETH BUMILLER, 2/07/05, NY Times)
    Modern, All Too Modern: Tom Wolfe's new novel, largely reviewed as a satiric report on the sexual mores of today's college students, is fundamentally about the nature of the human will.: a review of of I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe (S. T. Karnick, Books & Culture)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Tom Wolfe - A Clear Eye for Human Biodiversity (Steve Sailer, January 02, 2005, V-Dare)
    -REVIEW: of I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe (Dana B. Vachon, American Conservative)
    -REVIEW: of I am Charlotte Simmons, by Tom Wolfe (Ken Masugi, Claremont.org)
    -REVIEW: of I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe (Priya Jain, Salon)
    -REVIEW: of I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe (S. T. Karnick, Books & Culture)

Book-related and General Links:
    -Tom Wolfe: A Man in Full
    -Caricature from The Atlantic
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA : "tom wolfe"
    -FEATURED AUTHOR: Tom Wolfe (NY Times Book Review)
    -ARCHIVES : "tom wolfe" (Find Articles)
    -Creative Nonfiction: Writers and Their Works
    -EXCERPT : Chapter One of Hooking Up by Tom Wolfe : What Life Was Like at the Turn of the Second Millennium: An American's World
    -ESSAY : Sorry, But Your Soul Just Died (Tom Wolfe, Forbes)
    -ETEXT: The Last American Hero by Tom Wolfe
    -EXCERPT: from A Man in Full : Prologue
    -EXCERPT: from A Man in Full : Chapter Two
    -ESSAY: Disciplines: What do a Jesuit priest, a Canadian communications theorist, and Darwin II all have in common? (Tom Wolfe, Forbes)
   -REVIEW: of THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ROY COHN By Sidney Zion Dangerous Obsessions (Tom Wolfe, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of CECIL BEATON A Biography. By Hugo Vickers SNOB'S PROGRESS (Tom Wolfe, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW: of THE LAST LAUGH By S.J. Perelman THE EXPLOITS OF EL SID (Tom Wolfe, NY Times Book Review)
    -INTERVIEW: "TOM WOLFE AND HIS CRITICS" (Firing Line)
    -INTERVIEW : Tom Wolfe, in Full (Nicholas A. Basbanes, Lit Kit)
    -CBC Interview
    -INTERVIEW (Steve Hammer NUVO Newsweekly)
    -PROFILE : BRILLIANT CAREERS : Tom Wolfe :  He put New Journalism on the map with writing that shook as fiercely as it shimmered. (CARY TENNIS, Salon)
    -PROFILE: TOM WOLFE, MATERIAL BOY (Rand Richards Cooper, Commonweal)
    -Profile: Tom Wolfe, in 'Full' flower (USA Today)
    -PROFILE : The Wolfe in Chic Clothing :  Manliness runs a deep course through American life, but it is hard to find at Harvard, says Tom Wolfe.The celebrated author explains the contemporary male. FM returns the favor and examines Wolfe's own dubious masculinity (James Y. Stern, Harvard Crimson)
    -PROFILE: TOM WOLFE (Richard A. Kallan)
    -PROFILE: Don Dapper: Tom Wolfe conquers windmills on Brown's battlefield (Amanda Griscom)
    -Tom Wolfe: The Satirist of Society (Caitlin Allen, Brighton High School)
    -ESSAY : November 4, London.(Below the Fold)(The Lancet)
    -ESSAY : ON LANGUAGE : Hooking Up (WILLIAM SAFIRE, NY Times Magazine)
    -ESSAY :  Schooling Public Intellectuals : A Talking Head Ph.D. (Norah Vincent, Village Voice)
    -ARTICLE : Tom Wolfe Disinters "Tiny Mummies!" After 35 Years (Gabriel Snyder, NY Observer)
    -REVIEW : of Hooking Up by Tom Wolfe (Michiko Kakutani, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of Hooking Up by Tom Wolfe (Maureen Dowd, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Hooking Up Scourge of the Tiny Mummies Embalmed in His White Suit (Adam Begley, NY Observer)
    -REVIEW : of Hooking Up (John Gross, booksonline uk)
    -REVIEW : of Hooking Up (SUSAN SALTER REYNOLDS, LA Times)
    -REVIEW : A Wolfe in Hack's Clothing (Judith Shulevitz, Slate)
    -REVIEW : of Hooking Up by Tom Wolfe (NY Observer)
    -REVIEW : Wolfe...is that a Jewish name? : Mark Gimein on some surprising stereotypes in Tom Wolfe's Hooking Up (FEED)
    -REVIEW : of Hooking Up (Benjamin Svetkey, Entertainment Weekly)
    -REVIEW : of Hooking Up  : Making the Cinders Dance (Bruce S. Thornton, FrontPageMagazine.com)
    -REVIEW : of Hooking Up (Bruce Thornton,  National Review)
    -REVIEWS : of Tom Wolfe's Hooking Up and James Hynes' The Lecturer's Tale (Clyde Wilson, Chronicles)

NEW JOURNALISM :
    -TOM WOLFE'S NEW JOURNALISM PICKS
    -Creative Nonfiction: Writers and Their Works
    -NEW JOURNALISM by Dave Selden, Jr.
    -Parajournalism II: Wolfe and The New Yorker (DWIGHT MACDONALD, NY Review of Books)
    -The Birth of Way New Journalism (Joshua Quittner,  HotWired)

THREE STOOGES :
    -REVIEW : Dec 17, 1998 Norman Mailer: A Man Half Full, NY Review of Books
       A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe
    -ESSAY : John Irving blasts Tom Wolfe, Wolfe blasts back : Irving says Wolfe can't write, Wolfe says Irving's all washed up (Craig Offman, Salon)
    -CBC Interview
    -ESSAY : Tom Wolfe calls Irving, Mailer and Updike "the Three Stooges" : "Bonfire of the Vanities" author fans literary feud. (Craig Offman, Salon)
    -ESSAY : It's Tom Wolfe Versus the 'Three Stooges?'  (Jim Windolf, NY Observer)
    -ESSAY : A feud in full :  Why are three US literary heavyweights lining up to stick the knife into Tom Wolfe? Julian Borger reports from Washington (booksunlimited uk)
    -ESSAY :  The Punch Lines : Feuding Writers Get Nasty (Susan Schapiro, Voice Literary Supplement)
    -ESSAY : That's Entertainment : Somehow, amid the celebration of Tom Wolfe's new novel, there seems to have been a slight misunderstanding (Sven Birkerts, Atlantic Monthly)
 

AMBUSH AT FORT BRAGG :
    -REVIEW of Ambush at Fort Bragg (Salon)
    -REVIEW: Tom Wolfe's sour note (Timothy Noah, US News and World Report)
    -ESSAY: The Widening Gap Between the Military and Society: The U.S. military is emerging as an increasingly autonomous political force whose values diverge more and more widely from those of the society it is supposed to protect (Thomas E. Ricks, The Atlantic)

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