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Look Homeward, Angel Paperback – October 10, 2006
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“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)
"Language as rich and ambitious and intensely American as any of our novelists has ever accomplished." -- Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons
"Look Homeward, Angel is one of the most important novels of my life. . . . It's a wonderful story for any young person burning with literary ambition, but it also speaks to the longings of our whole lives; I'm still moved by Wolfe's ability to convey the human appetite for understanding and experience." -- Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian
"Wolfe made it possible to believe that the stuff of life, with all its awe and mystery and magic, could by some strange alchemy be transmuted to the page." -- William Gay, author of The Long Home
"As so many other American boys had before and have since, I discovered a version of myself in Look Homeward, Angel, and I became intoxicated with the elevated, poetic prose." -- Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek
From the Publisher
Look Homeward, Angel is an elaborate and moving coming-of-age story about Eugene Gant, a restless and energetic character whose passion to experience life takes him from his small, rural hometown in North Carolina to Harvard University and the city of Boston. The novel's pattern is artfully simple -- a small town, a large family, high school and college -- yet the characters are monumental in their graphic individuality and personality.
Through his rich, ornate prose, Wolfe evokes the extraordinarily vivid family of the Gants, and with equal detail, the remarkable peculiarities of small-town life and the pain and upheaval of a boy who must leave both. A classic work of American literature, Look Homeward, Angel is a passionate, stirring, and unforgettable novel.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
It is a bonafide thicket of adjectives and metaphors. Wolfe comes from the Walt Whitman school of "why say it in one word when five will do?" This is further accentuated by his stand-in Eugene Gant, who any college graduate can uncomfortably recognize themselves in: an over-dramatic intellectual who can make a mountain out of a mole-hill and certain the world is either to pat him on the back or out to get him.
But there's Wolfe's magic: he manages to paint the Gants and their home in Altamont, North Carolina so specifically, but you will undoubtedly find your own family in them. The witty, viceful, regretful father. The shrewd, fast-talking, aloof, and nagging mother. Siblings jealous of each others' opportunities. There is an incredible tragedy in the family in the end of the book, and it hurt me. It cut me deep. I was tearing up. And I think this book would've been useless without it.
Would I recommend it? Not really. But it's such a rich mine, an author finding his way into his own style and coming to grips with his upbringing, that it's not a bad read either. Just be prepared to go through long stretches of "My god! Get to something good already!" Lord of the Rings-scale world-building for a little family in North Carolina.
It therefore comes as no surprise that a film is about to be released (2016) about Wolfe's relationship with the great publishing editor who tackled one of Wolfe's later offerings, a million words long!.
Most of Look Homeward, Angel is hugely entertaining as Wolfe brings his extended family and the whole of 1900s Asheville to glorious life, with especial attention to warts and all. No wonder that, after the books publication, he could not return to the town for years. As his genius and thirst for knowledge developed - including an insatiable need for books, he literally outgrew (6' 6") all around him, having to overcome crippling shyness and humilation - his time at UNC in Chapel Hill was also a rite of passage.
This is the first book I have read anything on Kindle and I had the privilege of reading it in Asheville and Chapel Hill. Mastering Kindle's note taking or bookmark systems takes time, but in the end they worked well. It's great access gems from the tome whenever I want.