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on May 16, 2018
If Dominick Dunne was the Master of The Powerful Social Structure of New York's Rich, Tom Wolfe bought satire to the highest order. Charlie Crocker is a 67 Year Old Real Estate Mogul whose accounts are in arrears to 200 Million Dollars and although he gets the equivalent of a "Intervention" headed by Raymond Peepgas A Loan Officer to declare bankruptcy he doesn't. He wants to keep up the facade of being fabulously wealth with his Seven Sports Cars, Two Lear Jets and Turpentime His Mansion which was a Plantation 200 Years Earlier. He has a 28 Year Old Second Wife Serena, a Former First Wife who still plays The First Wife Card named Martha, and a Sixteen Year Old Son named Wallace aka Wally who's a bit of a geek. He sells his Crocker Frozen Foods Company not realizing the effect it would have on a young man that he doesn't know. Roger White The Second has to defend Fareek Fanon aka The Canon of Date Rape, and Conrad Hensley a laid off employee of Crocker Foods has to do what he has to do to survive and how the Men meet and their fates are nothing short of phenomenal. If anything it has a Great Expectations Vibe to it where Charlie like "Pip" has to find out the hard way that it's better to be rich in morals than in material comfort.
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on March 25, 2017
Uninteresting side story. One side story is just abandoned on the way and does not lead anywhere. Very poor stylistically. Too many repetitions on clicheed expressions.
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on September 2, 2015
Tom Wolfe's ability to make me feel as if I was there and experiencing the lives of his characters contributed to my complete enjoyment of A Man In Full. Wolfe' story, pace and compelling characters keep the reader fully engaged. A must read.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 16, 2007
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 bankruptcy. Charlie is faced with laying off some workers at his food business to free up cash and buy some time. One victim is young Conrad Hensley who later becomes Charlie's therapist. His bankers smell blood, Raymond Peepgass has even secretly put together a syndicate to take over Crocker's office building at a cut rate.

Meanwhile Georgia star running back Fanon Fareek is accused of date raping the daughter of one of Charlie's society cronies, a pillar of the white establishment. Upscale black lawyer Roger White is asked to represent Fanon and doing so offers Charlie a deal that would get the bank off his back, it would mean speaking in favour of Fareek at a press conference.

With the press conference looming Charlie must decide whether to go along with White's plan by praising Fareek and save his empire or risk losing everything and possibly causing a riot in Atlanta.

The author narrates in this novel a myriad of details and social observations. Wolfe exposes pretension, hypocrisy, malice, greed and vices on top of the dynamism of contemporary life. This novel is a work of satire, utterly dark and brutal with moments of humour and complex emotions. I was immediately grabbed by the fabulous characters Wolfe introduced and the plot revolving around them, I could hardly put the book down.
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on June 29, 2004
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 a cohesive narrative structure. The characters get jumbled around, the myriad plots cross artificially, but the prose is strangely catchy. Worthwhile if only to see where conservatism ends up without faith.
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on February 16, 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 . . . the last few chapters went by so fast, I had to re-read part of it to see if I wasn't missing something, and I wasn't. The end of the book made what came before almost trite and meaningless.
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on January 4, 2004
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. He is a true southerner, rich and powerful and ignorant of the more "delicate" issues of life, like the feelings of those who work for him. He thinks of himself as democratic, but instead he is patronizing. That Charlie gets his comeuppance is a strong point in the book. Unfortunately, in Wolfe's books there isn't anyone to really LIKE, and therefore, that doesn't put it at the top of the literary heap - in my opinion. I like to be able to identify with at least one of the characters, and this book isn't like that. Still it's a very good, interesting and easy read.
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on December 12, 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 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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on October 25, 2003
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 your cheez wiz sandwich.
Or maybe it's just me.
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on October 21, 2003
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.
I would recommend listening to A MAN IN FULL in its audiobook format as read by David Ogden Stiers. I don't believe that I've ever heard an audiobook reader so perfectly matched for a particular novel. Stiers expertly evokes a wide range of American dialects from upper-class white Atlanta, to upper-class black Atlanta, to lower-class Oakland, to white-supremacist prisoner, to Latino, to butcher, baker, and candlestick-maker. The entire performance is pitch-perfect, adding an additional level of emotional involvement in the story. Stiers (of M*A*S*H fame) shines brightest when performing the behind-closed-doors scenes of Atlanta's political and business meetings. He brings the precise amount of vocal snobbery, conceits, and vulnerability that we came to love/hate in his M*A*S*H character, Dr. Charles Emerson Winchester III.
A MAN IN FULL comes highly recommended for those seeking an excellently crafted novel, with rich descriptions of each character. An additional recommendation comes for the audiobook. David Ogden Stiers provides the ideal avenue on which to (re)experience this well-told tale.
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