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on November 28, 2000
13 of the 14 short stories contained in "Hooking Up" have been previously published, making this collection for novice Wolfe readers a must. "Ambush at Fort Bragg" is magnificent. But the only new essay in the collection reads flat, and is not in the league of "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," and "Bonfire of the Vanities."
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on January 26, 2001
This book is seriously marred by Wolfe's complete lack of understanding of the Internet. He has no grasp of its cultural impact and substitutes sneers for his usual insight (Ok, it's usually snarky insight, but still...)
The Fort Bragg piece is also weak. It reminds me of a Made for TV movie. Media opportunism isn't exactly a newsflash.
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on November 16, 2000
This book has a lot of good stuff in it. My favorite observation of Wolfe's, though, is that for poetry to be acceptable in literary circles these days, it has to be obscure, oblique, and hard to understand. Poets are upset these days that they aren't famous like Robert Frost was. Well, that's why. Wolfe is refreshing, to say the least.
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on December 17, 2000
If you don't know Wolfe, this is a great place to start. If you do, you'll love this. Not a word or concept out of place. Fascinating, well-written and most enjoyable. Inspired me to re-read A Man in Full and Bonfire of the Vanities.
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on March 13, 2001
The essay "Two Young Men Who Went West" is worth the price of the book. This captures the essential spirit of Silicon Valley better than just about anything written about the subject.
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on July 6, 2003
Though not as good as Bonfire of the Vanities. It makes for an interesting read and is well worth the effort. It is short and sweet.
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on January 20, 2002
I'm keeping this book for future use. To follow all the avenues Tom opens up will take years, but it will be fun...
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on August 29, 2003
Of Tom Wolfe, I've read thus far: Hooking Up, A Man in Full, and Bonfire of the Vanities -- but I think I'm done. His "observations" -- and his capacity for observation is the very quality for which so many reviewers are lamentably insistent upon praising him - evince, at best, a rudimentary understanding of modern culture, and most of his readers under 40 know it; or at least those who haven't been [swayed] by his reputation (though that, too, is waning). Bonfire was hardly of the earth-shattering importance with which so many ebullient reviewers infused it, and continue, in reviewing other novels, to offhandedly proliferate; A Man in Full was quite a lot worse, particularly the parts where Wolfe felt obliged to demonstrate his "keen ear" for the African American argot; and now he's gone and proven himself a pontificating windbag. One is actually embarrassed (the sort of vicarious embarrassment one feels violated for having been forced to experience) when he musters the effrontery to upbraid Updike, Irving and Mailer for their unanimous dislike of his meandering, clumsy novel with its contrived dialogue and characters and its idiosyncratic plotline, which ironically might not have been so utterly bereft of charm in Irving's hands.
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on March 24, 2003
Back in the 1970s, Wolfe spoke @our school & in his 3-piece yellow suit proposed a most ludicrous notion: that the great cultural revolution that we all thought was happening back then would really occur 30 years hence, when the spoiled college kids & Vietnam vets & blue collar types squared off. But the New Journalism puzzled me, & a year later I'd left grad school for a less-than-min wage orderly job.
That time Wolfe spoke of, chronologically anyway, is now. Of course, tastes've changed, & blue collars've been pretty much dismissed by powerbrokers. Now have a band of 70s-style spoiled rich kids (Bush et al.) playing war, something they evidently missed out on back when the domino theory was applied to nations & not to corporate sponsors. On the other side we have... a band of 70s-style spoiled rich kids (neo-feminists & Marxophiles)... playing...war?
Well, turns out they all coulda taken a lesson from Robert Noyce, the hero of Tom Wolfe's "Two Young Men Who Went West," in his recent collection "Hooking Up." Wolfe weaves a mesmerizing parallel betw. the Congregationalist founder of Grinnell, IA, Josiah Grinnell, & Noyce, one of its star 20th century citizens & inventor of the integrated circuit.
Wolfe's description of Noyce's anti-hierarchy business approach @Fairchild Semiconductor in what became Silicon Valley parallels Grinnell's demand of pastor-as-teacher, not leader. What Wolfe calls the feudal approach to business "back East" is more firmly entrenched now than at the dawn of the semiconductor. Wolfe didn't & didn't have to conclude that although we've welcomed the integrated circuit & microprocessor into our culture, we've locked out the spirit of equality that was home to Robert Noyce. (Want proof? how many idiotic motivational seminars has your executive staff ordered this year? How many morale-boosting pep rallies? How many touchy-feely bake-off sessions?)
Otherwise, Tom Wolfe seems remarkably orthodox in his cultural persuasion: he likes the whole biology-is-destiny concept (a.k.a. sociobiology) & almost appears to be jockeying for a pole positon in the "right" stuff corner with Bill Kristol & cricket Lynne Cheney. Maybe most of the folks that read him are also; otherwise, they might claim that they have their own Three Stooges (George, Dick, & Don). Personally, I'd love to see Wolfe take on some narrower, more intense targets, like Sartre's theory of practical ensembles.
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