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Hooking Up Paperback – October 12, 2001
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Tom Wolfe's name is now so well known that the cover of his new collection bears just that: Tom Wolfe's name. No title, no picture, just the name, with an elegant design twining through it. Flip the thing on its side and you'll find that its title, Hooking Up, gives little idea of its function. But investigation soon reveals an oleo of reportage, fiction, and acrimonious name-calling. The latter, of course, makes for the best reading. In "My Three Stooges," Wolfe reviles the three big men of American letters--Updike, Mailer, and Irving--who cast aspersions on his second novel. Apparently, "the allergens for jealousy were present. Both Updike and Mailer had books out at the same time as A Man in Full, and theirs had sunk without a bubble. With Irving there was the Dickens factor." Wolfe gets in a lot of figures about what a big hit his book was with the reading public, and a few gentle reminders about other writers who were big hits of their times--little guys like Twain and Tolstoy.
Equally bitter fun are his two famous 1965 satires from the New York Herald Tribune. As always, Wolfe's titles lead you a good way into the actual stories: "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." Wolfe, clotheshorse of note, gets off some of his best cracks at the expense of New Yorker editor William Shawn's fashion sense: "He always seems to have on about twenty layers of clothes, about three button-up sweaters, four vests, a couple of shirts, two ties, it looks that way, a dark shapeless suit over the whole ensemble, and white cotton socks." The rest of the reported pieces are unexceptional, and while the novella Ambush at Fort Bragg makes the most of its setting--a Dateline-like newsmagazine--it lacks the irresistible momentum required to drag most readers into a novella. Still, it's fun to watch the author reprise his lifelong role of unlikely underdog: between his sniping at the literary elite and his mocking of the precious New Yorker set, Tom Wolfe makes like a defender of the common man. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Arch, vengeful and incisive as ever, the standard bearer for the chattering classes is back, this time with a collection of nine previously published essays, one new one and a reprinted novella. Ranging from the spectacular innovations of neuroscience to the preposterous horrors of the contemporary art world to a bare-knuckled assessment of the critical reception to his novel A Man in Full (an essay that appears for the first time in this collection, and that will set tongues wagging), the pieces run the gamut of Wolfe's signature obsessions. Fans of his character sketches will relish "Two Young Men Who Went West," a revelatory profile of Robert Noyce, a key innovator of the microchip who founded Intel in 1968, where the midwestern Congregationalist values he shared with his former mentor, William Shockley (founder of the original Silicon Valley startup, Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory), grew into a business philosophy that's now so pervasive it's practically in the ether. Also included are Wolfe's infamous, irreverent profiles of New Yorker editors Harold Ross and William Shawn, originally published in 1968. Lopped off of Wolfe's most recent fiction opus, the novella "Ambush in Fort Bragg" concerns a "TV sting" run amok, and sits easily next to his journalism. However, Wolfe's meticulous eye for detail shows signs of jaundice in his hectoring anti-Communist tirades and in the title essay, which turns a snide backward glance on the turn of the millennium. Still, his fans will find plenty of evidence that Wolfe remains willing to plunge into "the raw, raucous, lust-soaked rout that throbs with amped-up octophonic typanum all around [him]" and thatDespecially in his nonfictionDhe can still grab the brass ring. Agent, Janklow & Nesbitt Associates. (Oct..--" and thatDespecially in his nonfictionDhe can still grab the brass ring. Agent, Janklow & Nesbitt Associates. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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His analysis of the cultural traditions that went into the making of the Silicon Valley mentality, is sharp, deep, and probably accurate.
The book includes a long novella which did not engage this reviewer with its theme, characters, or repetitive descriptions.
Taken as a whole, Wolfe's book is alternately absorbing in some parts, tedious in others. Three stars.
Finally descends to some unnecessarily vitriolic attacks on well-known figures who have dared to criticize him.
Left me with a nasty taste in my mouth and a distrust of what he may write in the future.
And "Hooking Up" followed that same pattern. I saw, I purchased and I devoured it.
Wolfe's non-fiction is as good as his fiction. I found myself quoting the observations on a Harvard entomologist for weeks after I finished the book. And I am still laughing at a wonderful story about William Shawn. (No, I did not confuse this with etymologist. Wolfe's genius is to take an ant expert and make him a giant!)
The depiction of a TV crew seeking a gruesome story demonstrated an ability to see inside of our minds.
There is nothing like Wolfe's ability to use English at its most wonderful.
There is only one problem with anything by Wolfe--it comes to an end. And because of the quality, one long sleepless flight is enough to finish the book. (And I would not leave the plane until I could!)
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