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A Man In Full: A Novel. [Hardcover]

Tom. Wolfe
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (850 customer reviews)

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First Sentence
FOR A WHILE THE FREAKNIC TRAFFIC INCHED UP PIEDMONT...inched up Piedmont...inched up Piedmont...inched up as far as Tenth Street...and then inched up the slope beyond Tenth Street...inched up as far as Fifteenth Street... whereupon it came to a complete, utter, hopeless, bogged-down glue-trap halt, both ways, northbound, southbound, going and coming, across all four lanes. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel for the ages June 9 2004
By elwin
You might, as you start reading Man in Full, think that it's going to be another bonfire of similar vanities. You might, but you would be wrong. I loved Bonfire of the Vanities, but this book has more heart; it's even better.
The book is mostly set in Atlanta, and Wolfe makes the case that Atlanta has a unique racial situation. Race relations and racial tensions form a major theme in the novel. Wolfe views race from many angles, including views from Atlanta's black elite, wealthy conservative and liberal southern white, and the inside of a California prison.
The characters and characterizations are marvelous. This was one of the strengths of Bonfires and it's a strength of this book too. I don't think Wolfe writes women as well as he writes men, but the men of several different walks of life are as fully fleshed as anything I've ever read. Another fascinating thing about the book is the inside knowledge Wolfe shares. The insider's view of an Atlanta mayoral campaign was truly eye-opening, as was the inside view of a prison.
The book is hard to classify, but the view is often satirical (like Bonfire), and makes fun of the pride, vanity, lusts, and fears of the elites (like Bonfire). However, there is more heart. Some of the heart shows up in Wolfe's compassion for divorced 50-something wives who have been discarded by their social climbing husbands. In Bonfire, the wives, called "X-rays" were subject to the same ridicule as their husbands; not so in this book. Wolfe also shows some compassion for the poor souls in prison, as he illuminates the brutal social structure in his california jail. It's never mawkish; it never plays for sympathy or tears, but the simple facts of prison life are a horror.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sublimely captivating satire Dec 12 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 writing style. Due to this undeniably rare combination in modern fiction, Wolfe elevates himself above the 2 books/year modern authors who churn out books like a factory and value spineless & flavorless style over certifiable substance. Wolfe, in A Man in Full, gives us a work not lacking in either comprehensiveness or profundity. This, like Bonfire, is a great American novel.
Wolfe's refreshing penchant for amazingly lucid and superlatively amusing dialogue makes this book hard to put down. Wolfe ingeniously satirizes the unwritten, although readily apparent, class structure of the South through such bizarrely eclectic characters as Charlie Croker(good ol' boy establishment), his ex-wife Martha(shallow elitist), Fareek "The Canon" Fanon(flatulent inner-city star athlete), Croker's wife Serena(trophy wife), Roger "too" White II(the Morehouse Man in an identity crisis), Conrad Hensley(blue collar drone turned philosopher), and my favorite character, the entertainingly enigmatic Raymond Peepgass(the East Coast crowd moved South).
A Man in Full comes highly recommended to those who value witty, substantive works over vapidly trite novels of fluff.
It's only fitting to conclude with an excerpt of typical Wolfe dialogue from the jail scene:
"But how do you get to be a...player?" Conrad asked Five-O. "What can you do?"
"No do no mo'notting, brah. Use da mouth. NO make beef wit' da buggahs. Use da mouth."
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5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable work, especially in audio form Oct. 21 2003
Format:Audio CD
This review refers to the Audio book, masterfully read by David Ogden Stiers.
A MAN IN FULL is a noteworthy work by Tom Wolfe that examines the core of true manliness in the modern world. While there's no swashbuckling, open-shirted flexing of pectorals, just watch as two men are pressed far beyond the breaking point of most - one maintains his honor at the ultimate cost, the other struggles mightily with folding his hand. Both rise from the ashes of their former lives in extraordinary form.
Wolfe has a keen ability to delicately describe the intricacies of interpersonal interactions with delightful detail. Though the audiobook is abridged, it maintains the integrity of Wolfe's wonderful descriptions. The beauty of Wolfe's work is in the subtle, smart observations of human thought, action, and reaction. For example, one of the main characters loves to flex his large lattissimus dorsi (back) muscles as it insinuates his physical dominance not only to his companions, but to himself. Admit it - you know someone like that, and recognizing it will make you smile.
Though cleverly written and plotted, A MAN IN FULL is not for the faint of heart. There is some grizzly, real-world subject matter that may make the reader cringe. There is an artfully crafted scene that far surpasses the end-of-your-rope tension presented by the feature films "Falling Down" and "Changing Lanes", where the reader will feel the vice of life's little injustices add up to an unbearable Herculean burden. There is a particularly gut-wrenching scene that culminates in a hideous violation in a prison shower stall. Though we'd like to assume these things don't happen, Tom Wolfe reports it with a sad urgency that requires the reader's attention.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Work of Satire
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 more
Published on Dec 16 2007 by Toni Osborne
3.0 out of 5 stars Self-conscious classic
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 more
Published on June 29 2004 by David P Henreckson
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best
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 more
Published on March 22 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars A story that stays with you
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 more
Published on March 5 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Why the Hurry?
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 more
Published on Feb. 16 2004 by C Brunner
3.0 out of 5 stars View of Real Life
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 more
Published on Jan. 4 2004 by Kathleen Walton
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh Subjects, Great Read
I strongly recommend this book. In addition to providing that Wolfeian insight to modern culture & characters it's funny, warm, amusing, moving. Read more
Published on Dec 31 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect-pitch analysis of the modern moral quandary
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 more
Published on Oct. 25 2003 by Nanx Hedwerp
5.0 out of 5 stars Defining a man in full
What is a man in full?
Tom Wolfe, author of prior books on banking and astronauts takes us into Atlanta to explore what gets to the root of being a man. Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2003 by therosen
5.0 out of 5 stars Drive for the deal
I read the hard-cover edition of this book because my professor at a prominent real estate school recommended it. Read more
Published on Oct. 3 2003 by Shailesh N Humbad
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