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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
It was early 1980 when I first read "Look Homeward.." for a University of Colorado course. The professor who seemed to be a hundred years old to me at the time instructed me to read my critical report to the entire class. After smugly concluding Wolfe was lacking in many areas the professor graded my paper an "A"...then she patted my young shoulders and told me that one day I'd be old enough to understand Wolfe. She was right and my criticicm was dead wrong. Wolfes' wordiness is his beauty. The scene in "Of Time And The River" where his father dies is as beautiful and compelling as anything I've read. I think the book is unique and those who are critical of it may need to read it again -when they are a little older.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
"Of Time and the River" like "Look Homeward Angel," to which it is a sequel, is an intense and panoromic narrative of life in, and a paean to, early 20th Century America from the perspective of a Southern writer gone North. In doing that it foresages the experiences of others who came after him like Willie Morris. Wolfe's work artfully evokes much of the era that Ken and Ric Burns seek to capture in their documentaries but from the perspective of a participant and his personal struggles in life. (Wolfe's evocation of New York City in the 20s and 30s in "Of Time and the River" come to mind in this regard). In sum, Wolfe's works are not only top-notch examples of American literature but stand as a monumental and inspiring expression of American culture and of the spirit that animated much of our society during the dawning period of the 20th Century.
Wolfe's work is not the tradition of pop culture and has little in common with the work of the current writer of the same name. Thus, reading Wolfe's work can be intellectually challenging. Nevertheless, tackling these books can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for those seriously interested in American history and culture. The movie "The Razor's Edge" based on a book by Somerset Maugham, one of Wolfe's literary mentors (and to whom Wolfe dedicated "Look Homeward Angel"), written after the latter's untimely death in 1938, depicts in cinematic form to a great degree much of the story and spirit of the age that Wolfe sought to communicate. Wolfe's work, notwithstanding its challenging level of literacy, is very absorbing and will only be found to be boring by more pedestrian readers.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
"In Our Time" examines, through essays and sketches, the fluxtuating cultural norms of 1970's America. It is a sort of logical literary culmination of Wolfe's "Me decade" works: The onservations of "Radical Chic," "Mauve Gloves and Madmen," and even bits of "The Painted Word" resonate in this more succinct and cutting collection. The "Me Decade" spawned countless small groups of so-called free thinkers, self-healers, and folks liberating themselves from the brutal tyranny of the worlds most prosperous economy. In "In Our Time," Wolfe is most interested with these people, whether they be the newly prosperous prole tearing up the roadways in monstrous autos, the bell-bottomed middle manager smoking marijuana during the lunch hour, or the literary, artistic, and political elements who fashioned themselves in response to wanton secularity. In addition to short essays, some pulled directly from his earlier books, Wolfe compiles and adds to his earlier drawings. These are wonderful to see in a large format, where Wolfe's rough, yet funny and insightful observations on the human body (specifically an American one) become all the better to revel in. Wolfe wonderfully expresses the basic silliness of fashion consciousness in the 1970's through sketches of hopefully hip septegenerians and young punks as dandies. In addition, the short essays, especially the opening comments on the end of the decade, are vintage Wolfe. Unfortunately, this edition is out of print and hard to find. However, it is the coffee table accesory for any fan of Wolfe or of that bitter pill of a decade we call the 1970's.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
"In Our Time" examines, through essays and sketches, the fluxtuating cultural norms of 1970's America. It is a sort of logical literary culmination of Wolfe's "Me decade" works: The onservations of "Radical Chic," "Mauve Gloves and Madmen," and even bits of "The Painted Word" resonate in this more succinct and cutting collection. The "Me Decade" spawned countless small groups of so-called free thinkers, self-healers, and folks liberating themselves from the brutal tyranny of the worlds most prosperous economy. In "In Our Time," Wolfe is most interested with these people, whether they be the newly prosperous prole tearing up the roadways in monstrous autos, the bell-bottomed middle manager smoking marijuana during the lunch hour, or the literary, artistic, and political elements who fashioned themselves in response to wanton secularity. In addition to short essays, some pulled directly from his earlier books, Wolfe compiles and adds to his earlier drawings. These are wonderful to see in a large format, where Wolfe's rough, yet funny and insightful observations on the human body (specifically an American one) become all the better to revel in. Wolfe wonderfully expresses the basic silliness of fashion consciousness in the 1970's through sketches of hopefully hip septegenerians and young punks as dandies. In addition, the short essays, especially the opening comments on the end of the decade, are vintage Wolfe. Unfortunately, this edition is out of print and hard to find. However, it is the coffee table accesory for any fan of Wolfe or of that bitter pill of a decade we call the 1970's.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
There is no doubt that Mr. Wolfe was a brilliant writer. More than once I found myself saying "Yes, I know exactly how you feel!" I suspect I am not alone in this regard. The biggest drawback, and the reason I only assign four starts, is the sensation that I am mining for greatness. What do I mean?

There were some long stretches throughout the book that I found tedious. My advice is to plough ahead for I assure you the sections that speak to the reader are that good. Wolfe's death at a young age was loss for us all.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
If you've never seen a cartoon by Tom Wolfe, it's a surprise and a real pleasure to see that he draws as brilliantly as he writes.
In Our Time has 89 of his cartoons (and a couple essays). You'll want to save it and look at the cartoons every couple of years -- "The Maternal Instinct," say, or "No. 1 The Modern Churchman," or maybe "The Man Who Always Peaked Too Soon," or the cartoon of a hugely fat Edward Kennedy wearing a tiny bathing suit, with a roach clip, a sacred heart locket, a coke spoon and a crucifix, each one dangling in his chest hairs, on its own separate chain.
You'll have your own favorites. Possibly the two cartoons about Jimmy Carter. They're especially sweet.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I bought Of Time and the River after having first re-read Look Homeward, Angel. Both novels brought back the restless, inexpressible yearnings and passions of youth, of that wordless, intense tangle of desires and emotions only the young seem to feel so strongly. The first reading, when I was in college, left an indelible impression . . . Wolfe had put on the printed page a spiritual biography of ME, but also of all young men. I was a devotee at once. I read Look Homeward, Angel, several times over the years and recommended it to my high school students . . . and while it brought back to me this time something intensely familiar, ironically, I found it fresh and new -- timeless is the word, I think -- as I read it over 40 years later. This sequel, Of Time and the River, is a continuation of Eugene Gant's turbulent life, and even more intense than its precedessor. Wolfe is, doubtless, an acquired taste; to many, his novels may seem tediously long and hopelessly rhapsodic, diverging madly for pages from the narrative, attempting to capture the feelings and experiences of the seasons, of human beings in all their virtue and vice, of longing and loneliness in painfully nostalgic Octobers. And I love his intensity, his painful quest to express the inexpressible. I love this book and Wolfe's first, Look Homeward, Angel. As I visited his hometown, Asheville, NC, and the house he grew up in and immortalized in that first, sprawlng novel, I almost expected to meet him in a corridor there--it was haunting, like coming home. I stood by his grave. I saw the stone angel of the title in the same cemetery. And Wolfe and I seemed to be one. So tragic that he died so young, like an extinguished, white-hot flame.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
After the epic " Look Homeward, Angel " comes this book. " Of time and the river " tells the story of a young man, Gene Gant, of his journey from North Carolina to cooler days and nights at Harvard in the North. Wolfe vividly captures the sights, sounds and smells of early 20th C Boston in this semi autobiographical tome. Long but worth the effort, as the prose is very picturesque and never morose.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Of Time and the River, to me, is a tale of the development of a writer. It is an autobiographical novel that highlights the events that most influenced Wolfe in becoming a writer, including those that finally drove him to sit down and focus on writing instead of bouncing around saying he was a writer. He is a magician with words and it is his primary positive attribute, although it would be meaningless without his insight into human character. The novel is very lengthy and would drag if not for Wolfe's command of language. If a reader is not interested in language, but only content, he might want to skip this book. It is full of content, but language is so crucial to the enjoyment of the book. I have read that editing was critical to the success of Wolfe's books, but I have to wonder. It is evident that the editor hacked the length of this book back at the end, and did a very poor job of it. When Eugene returns to Paris penniless near the end, and has to wait for five weeks to get money from his mother to continue his sojourn in Europe, but we are not told how he existed during this time. It is unthinkable to me that Wolfe wrote his novel this way. Also, at the very end, he meets a woman who becomes his wife and inspiration. This happens in a few paragraphs. It seems to me that if the editor wanted to cut the book down to a manageable size, he could have taken a scalpel, and cut out, or shrunk, some of the passages where Wolfe goes off on tangents, beautifully written tangents, meaningful tangents, and interesting tangents, but not always necessary to the book. Instead the editor seems to have simply taken a cannon and blown a few holes in the book. Of course I say this without the benefit of seeing the book before the editor got a hold of it. I'm sure that there are two sides to the story. Despite these concerns, I highly recommend this book and intend to read The Web and the Rock someday, the only Wolfe novel I have yet to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
At one time, Wolfe was read alongside Hemingway, Faulker, and yes, even Fitzgerald in American Lit classes. And justly so. Forget about changing tastes and the fact that Wolfe's novels were edited by Maxwell Perkins. This is a stunning book.
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