March 02, 2005

Happy Birthday, Tom Wolfe!

(Image stolen from the Man Himself.)

Today is Tom Wolfe's 75th birthday. I think it safe to say that the man is my absolute favorite contemporary fiction writer. Granted, as I noted in my recent flu-crazed review of My Name Is Charlotte Simmons, I think he lets his crankiness run away with him sometimes, but even then he does it with such a wickedly delicious flare that one doesn't really mind. (His non-fictional social commentary, such as can be found in Hooking Up, often makes my skin crawl, in large part because here he is not making it up.) My very first encounter with Wolfe's work was when someone gave me a copy of Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flack-Catchers in high school. I still find his story about Lenny and the Black Panthers to be hysterical.

Wolfe, being a W&L Man, spoke at my law school commencement. So far as I can tell, a great many of the faculty and administration simply didn't realize what they were letting themselves in for. In his speech, Wolfe launched into a full-tilt tirade against out-of-control multi-culti PCism in Academia. The students, most of whom were pretty conservative, ate it up. But the denizens of the stage sat through it in a state of ever-increasing alarum and horror. Heh.

Posted by Robert at March 2, 2005 10:02 AM

Love Tom Wolfe - always have.

There's an AWESOME book about the disastrous making of Bonfire of the Vanities - it's called The Devil's Candy, and it's become a classic in books about film. It describes as each inevitable step was taken, away from Tom Wolfe's book ... all with the best of intentions - that's the thing - nobody ever sets out to make a bad movie - and Tom Wolfe's role in the whole debacle.

Posted by: red at March 2, 2005 10:56 AM

Wolfe is a sort of present day Dickens, isn't he, without all the poetical doodahs. I mean, he does not write Lit-a-chur; it's more like fictionalized reporting (unless that is indeed a redundancy).
He certainly fills a need--the voice of reason and decency, if anyone remembers what those are, and actually screamingly funny about it. Sort of a good-natured Evelyn Waugh.
Not that there's anything wrong with Lit-a-chur.

Posted by: mothe at March 2, 2005 11:26 AM
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