Thursday's Child (lauri8) wrote,
Thursday's Child

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Tom Wolfe's Stuff Just Ain't Right

This time I give up for good.

I have been trying for the second (possibly the third) time to get through Tom Wolfe's A Man In Full, but it's like trying to choke down dry fruitcake--packed so full of fruit and nuts, but still somehow so tasteless and unsatisfying. Wolfe wrote some of the best nonfiction portraits I've ever read--I loved his piece on Junior Johnson. It was a delight. But his fiction is leaden and bloated; stuffed to the rafters with his trademark obsession with attention to numbing detail. At least with Dickens there are the occasional appealing, even startlingly original, characters. With Wolfe, there are none. And despite the "sprawling canvas" (as the book review phrase goes) of Wolfe's fiction, those exhaustively catalogued set pieces of his populated with all manner of men and women, it seems to me that every one of his characters has the same internal voice. It always sounds . . . like this! Astonished, indignant, clutching! Always with the exclamation points! His characters are always feeling insulted! Deprived!

And then there are his attempts to render contemporary trends--"Capture that zeitgeist with my unerring eye," I can imagine him thinking. They range from the howlingly awkward (a rapper named Doctor Rammer Doc Doc) to the depressingly limp (a "Kuntry Metal" band called Pus Casserole). It just makes me squirm.

"Man," I want to tell him, "if Jann Wenner is the one telling you this tortured slop sounds authentic, he is one sadistic friend."

I am through, I tell you.

By the way, if you're dying to read this book I've just trashed, I'll be releasing it under the auspices of Book Crossing, so feel free to pick it up. Hahahaha.
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