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A Man in Full Mass Market Paperback – October 5, 1999
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Choosing David Ogden Stiers (M*A*S*H, The Accidental Tourist) to narrate this sprawling tale of contemporary American society was an act of inspired audio casting. The familiar, snobbish qualities of his warm yet condescending voice perfectly match author Tom Wolfe's own carefully sculpted persona of haughty disdain and color the recording with an interesting sense of authenticity. Without indulging in overwrought characterizations, Stiers manages to create enough distinction between players to keep this sweeping epic coherent. There are moments that find him overreaching, but when voicing a novel this broad, some notes are bound to ring false. Overall, Stiers's abridged reading is an intelligent, entertaining rendition of Wolfe's scrupulously detailed and bitingly funny portrait of America at the turn of the millennium. (Running time: 8.5 hours, 6 cassettes) --George Laney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
However the National Book Award judges managed to get hold of Wolfe's much-delayed second novel in time to give it their nod as an NBA finalist, they were quite right to do so. It's a dazzling performance, offering a panoramic vision of America at the end of the 20th century that ranges with deceptive ease over our economic, political and racial hang-ups and at the same time maintains a brisk narrative pace that makes the huge book seem only a quarter of its real length. Balzac had the same gift. The "man in full" of the title (the phrase comes from an old song) is Charlie Croker, a good-ole-boy real-estate developer in Atlanta whose sprawling South Georgia plantation, massive mansion in the best part of town, half-empty skyscraper tower named after himself, horde of servants, fleet of jets and free-spending trophy second wife have left him terribly vulnerable to bankers deciding the party's over. As a former football star, however, the suggestion is put to him that there is something he can do to ease his situation. A black Georgia Tech player clearly headed for greatness may have raped the daughter of one of Charlie's old business buddies. If Charlie can help the city's ambitious black mayor maintain calm, the bank just might be persuaded to ease up on him. Three thousand miles away in California, Conrad Hensley, an idealistic young worker at a warehouse run by one of Charlie's subsidiary companies, fired in an offhand downsizing designed to placate the bank, runs afoul of the law in a farcical parking hassle and is thrown in jail. There, in fear of his life, Conrad absorbs Stoic philosophy from a book his wife has sent him, and, aided by a timely earthquake (sent by Zeus?), begins to turn his life around until the day, in exile in Atlanta, he encounters Charlie. These parallel plot lines, examining with microscopic precision the obsessions, preoccupations, habits and lingo of life at the top and bottom of American society, are both compelling in themselves and resonant with a sense of the vast mystery and comedy of contemporary life in this amazing country. Wolfe is as adept at scenes painted with high satirical glee (Charlie on a quail hunt, or introducing shrinking business guests to an all-out stud performance by a prize racehorse) as he is with horror and pity (his picture of life for Conrad in his California jail is almost unbearably intense). Despite the very occasional longeurs (readers learns more Atlanta geography than they may care to) and writerly tics (Wolfe still can't resist onomatopoetic outbursts), the novel is a major advance on The Bonfire of the Vanities in its range, power and compassion, while retaining all of that book's breathless contemporaneity and readability. 1.2 million firt printing; simultanneous audio from BDD.(Nov 6).
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The way these two characters came to be together, and the result of that relationship is absolutely hilarious (if not altogether believable). I finish the book being very glad I'd invested the time to read it.
Probably the best novel by an American I've read since Bonfire of the Vanities, also by Tom Wolfe.
Both books are very similar in structure. Wolfe writes the "local epic," concentrating on a city, like New York or Atlanta, starting with a small storyline, adding others until eventually, the book is really about that city's politics. Everyone in town is involved, from the kid who beats the bushes for quail on up to the head football coach of the university and further on up to City Hall.
Wolfe gets into the soul of the city and shakes it out until the dust settles.
Great summer read with memorable characters, adequate mysticism, interpersonal (and personal) conflicts set within the social and political flavor of the “modern” South, in a tale that only Tom Wolfe can fashion to make interesting for 700+ pages.