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On many counts, the answer would have to be yes. Like its predecessor, A Man in Full is a big-canvas work, in which a multitude of characters seems to be ascending or (rapidly) descending the greasy pole of social life: "In an era like this one," a character reminds us, "the twentieth century's fin de siècle, position was everything, and it was the hardest thing to get." Wolfe has changed terrain on us, to be sure. Instead of New York, the focus here is Atlanta, Georgia, where the struggle for turf and power is at least slightly patinated with Deep South gentility. The plot revolves around Charlie Croker, an egomaniacal good ol' boy with a crumbling real-estate empire on his hands. But Wolfe is no less attentive to a pair of supporting players: a downwardly mobile family man, Conrad Hensley, and Roger White II, an African American attorney at a white-shoe firm. What ultimately causes these subplots to converge--and threatens to ignite a racial firestorm in Atlanta--is the alleged rape of a society deb by Georgia Tech football star Fareek "The Cannon" Fanon.
Of course, a detailed plot summary would be about as long as your average minimalist novel. Suffice it to say that A Man in Full is packed with the sort of splendid set pieces we've come to expect from Wolfe. A quail hunt on Charlie's 29,000-acre plantation, a stuffed-shirt evening at the symphony, a politically loaded press conference--the author assembles these scenes with contagious delight. The book is also very, very funny. The law firms, like upper-crust powerhouse Fogg Nackers Rendering & Lean, are straight out of Dickens, and Wolfe brings even his minor characters, like professional hick Opey McCorkle, to vivid life:
In true Opey McCorkle fashion he had turned up for dinner wearing a plaid shirt, a plaid necktie, red felt suspenders, and a big old leather belt that went around his potbelly like something could hitch up a mule with, but for now he had cut off his usual torrent of orotund rhetoric mixed with Baker Countyisms.Readers in search of a kinder, gentler Wolfe may well be disappointed. Retaining the satirist's (necessary) superiority to his subject, he tends to lose his edge precisely when he's trying to move us. Still, when it comes to maximalist portraiture of the American scene--and to sheer, sentence-by-sentence amusement--1998 looks to be the year of the Wolfe, indeed. --James Marcus --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Charles (Charlie) Croker a middle-aged prominent Atlanta businessman finds his life turned up-side down when his ego brings him to a staggering debt load and to the brink of... Read morePublished on Dec 16 2007 by Toni Osborne
Both insightful and almost tediously broad. Wolfe's much-hyped novel of 1998 feigns a Stoic pride in our post-Christian world, but doesn't seem to really put the pieces together in... Read morePublished on June 29 2004 by David P Henreckson
The book was interesting enough for me to finish it, but it is not one of his best. There are a number of very slow spots in the story and it lacks the spark of some of his other... Read morePublished on March 22 2004
I first read this book three years ago, then just re-read it again this week. I hadn't realized how many vignettes, put firmly into my head in that original reading, have stayed... Read morePublished on March 5 2004
This was a very good read, with colorful characters, and good character development for the most part. But the ending of the book was rushed. It was conventional and pat . . . Read morePublished on Feb. 16 2004 by C Brunner
What I loved most about this book was Wolfe's characterization of Charlie Croker, a man I meet over and over again in real life. Read morePublished on Jan. 4 2004 by Kathleen Walton
I strongly recommend this book. In addition to providing that Wolfeian insight to modern culture & characters it's funny, warm, amusing, moving. Read morePublished on Dec 31 2003
Tom Wolfe, as is his trademark style, emanates forth in A Man in Full his caustic wit, biting satire, amazingly diverse characters, superior dialogue, and a highly engrossing... Read morePublished on Dec 12 2003 by Chris Salzer
This fine, sprawling novel has only cartoonish characters, BUT -- and this is its saving grace -- the plot is so hilariously implausible that it makes you sputter giggling into... Read morePublished on Oct. 25 2003 by Nanx Hedwerp