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You Can't Go Home Again Paperback – October 11, 2011

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Editorial Reviews Review

This novel was the last Thomas Wolfe finished before his untimely death at age 37. In its brilliance, we find more cause to wish he had lived longer. As with his other novels, You Can't Go Home Again is an extremely personal work, but in the character of George Webber, a writer, Wolfe sees and captures America and the world in an dramatic time in history. The time is the period just before the great stock market crash and it stretches through the Depression and into Germany during the rise of Nazis. And the writer of course is Wolfe, who takes us on a ride through America never seen before--one with sharp insight and breathtaking flair. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“In 1949, when I was sixteen, I stumbled on Thomas Wolfe, who died at thirty-eight in 1938, and who made numerous adolescents aside from me devotees of literature for life.  In Wolfe, everything was heroically outsized, whether it was the voracious appetite for experience of Eugene Gant, the hero of his first two novels, or of George Webber, the hero of his last two. The hero's loneliness, his egocentrism, his sprawling consciousness gave rise to a tone of elegiac lyricism that was endlessly sustained by the raw yearning for an epic existence—for an epic American existence. And, in those postwar years, what imaginative young reader didn't yearn for that?”
(Philip Roth)

“Wolfe wrote as one inspired. No one in his generation had his command of language, his passion, his energy.” --Clifton Fadiman, The New Yorker

You Can’t Go Home Again will stand apart from everthing else that [Wolfe] wrote because this is the book of a man who had come to terms with himself, who was on his wa to mastery of his art, who had something profoundly important to say.” –New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451650493
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451650495
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Ross on October 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I've been reading these other reviews and I've come to the conclusion that most of these folks just don't GET Wolfe. They keep talking about this being "wordy" and "drawn-out". Hello..Thomas Wolfe could write three pages about a man staring out of a window and have me in tears, contemplating the meaning of life. He's rarely about the story. He's always about the beauty of the moment. For sheer power of description and fearless romantic vision no one has come close to Thomas Wolfe.
No one moves me like he does.
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89 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Jon Linden VINE VOICE on September 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thomas Wolfe's book "You Can't Go Home Again" is undeniably an immortal American classic. What is truly impressive and unique about Wolfe's writing is not only the intuitive incisiveness with which he articulates human thought and emotion; but just as astonishing, is his ability to articulate these things with utter and precise clarity.
There is not one sentence in his book that does not make total sense upon first reading. If it seems not to, it is only because the reader has skipped a line. With a vocabulary that is vast, but which he uses with unique precision, Wolfe tells the story of George Webber, a writer, who is in essence, Thomas Wolfe, the writer. Wolfe ultimately sees himself as an artist that is an observer of human thought and action. But in addition, one that has an obligation to do what one can, to stamp out ugliness, violence, injustice, inhumanity, and so many other wrongs that rear their heads in society from time to time.
Yet, even with this extraordinary brilliance, clarity, and understanding of the human condition, like all great writers and great artists, he leaves the reader with a question. If clearly, it is his understanding of his personal duty, his personal philosophy to work to do what one can do, to end injustice, then why, is he, personally, always running away? As the book is a picture of one always on the move, always observing people, always changing venue, but wisely with great proficiency and efficacy, storing these experiences away as he seeks his understanding of the human condition; he is constantly yet on the move. And so, how does one work to stamp out injustice, if one is always running from the place he is at, and believes "He can't go home again?" This then becomes the challenge to the reader as well.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Douglas F. Voerding on October 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
Wolfe weaves, very deliberately, in and out of images and situations from his own lost generation in this, his last novel, largely autobiographical. He was the most lyrical writer of his time, this book no exception, and although at times it's obvious he struggled with structure, Wolfe gives the reader the unique ability to truly understand each of his characters as multi-dimensional and on numerous levels. There's a bit of George Weber in all of us, searching for something we know we've either lost or never found, times when we feel alone, and the world is so large. If you've ever read Fitzgerald, you will enjoy this novel, and even if you haven't, you should. It's a timeless classic, with a theme so prevaliant in literature and society even today, and stated so clearly in the title.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Wordsworth on September 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
"You Can't Go Home, Again" is really not so much a work of fiction as an autobiography in which the names of characters have been changed. Wolfe seemed unapologetic about the baldly autobiographical nature of his work. However, some may perceive his autobiography as evidence of a certain lack of creative reach and an aversion to creative risk-taking on his part. Wolfe's life was so deeply and richly lived in a relatively short period and so lyrically written that his autobiography reads as vibrantly as fiction. There are moments when Wolfe is brilliant and dazzling in describing moments of almost biblical epiphany. I suppose it's a good thing for Wolfe that he dove so deeply into his own life as it was tragically brief but intensely experienced and elegantly articulated: he managed to cram a great deal into his short lifespan. Wolfe reads quite a bit like Proust and in this novel the sentences in some places are nearly as long as the syntax of Proust. Wolfe could well be considered the Proust of the American South. Writers will especially value this work and it pays to read to the end as Wolfe's last novel is particularly revealing in its power and optimism and lyricism at its close: "What befalls man is a tragic lot. There is no denying this in the final end. But we must deny it all along the way. Mankind was fashioned for eternity." In the end Wolfe finds a comfortable home upon a promontory point in America's literary landscape. To understand the life of the writer in America at the outset of the 20th century during a Golden Age for the novel I recommend this worthy and enduring gem of that era.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By jettoki sora on December 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
Before you read "You Can't Go Home Again," make sure you have read "Look Homeward Angel." Wolfe's novels are essentially romanticized autobiographies, and although Eugene Gant and George Weber are not exactly the same character, they both represent the author struggling with incredible but unfocused talent, trying to find his home in a world that is inhospitable to his genius. If you are at all the creative type, these books will resonate profoundly. If not, you might find them a little contrived. If you are *Southern*, you absolutely *must* read these books.

It's honestly difficult to do justice to Wolfe's poetry with a simple review, but I can say that no Southern author even approaches his writing ability, save Faulkner. These two books form the literary pillars of my creative ego; they are at once tragically self-conscious and fervently optimistic. It's such a shame that Wolfe died young as he did.

A final note--before reading the chapters about the party in New York, look up the artists Alexander Calder and Joan Miró. You'll find that an otherwise hilarious scene is actually a scathing satire of contemporary art. If you at all share his sentiments, you'll have trouble staying in your chair.
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