Tom Wolfe is the author of more than a dozen books, among them such contemporary classics as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, The Bonfire of the Vanities and A Man in Full. A native of Richmond, Virginia, he earned his B.A. at Washington and Lee University and a Ph.D. in American studies at Yale. He lives in New York City.
In his new collection, Wolfe veers between his new enthusiasms (the Silicon Valley revolution, the American Century, modern teenage sexual customs) and some old familiar peeves (The New Yorker, American Intellectuals, the "pathetic revolution" of European formalism). From cheeky New Journalist to novelist of social satires, Wolfe's career really began with a short, mean-spirited masterpieceÄhis two-part 1965 parody of William Shawn and the hushed old New Yorker, collected here for the first time. Wolfe has always proudly tweaked what he calls the "effete" literary world. The latest dust-up is over his novel A Man in Full, which brought attacks by novelists Updike, Mailer, and Irving that inspired Wolfe's grandly defensive response, "My Three Stooges." Since he is no longer contending with 1960s Radical Chic, much of Wolfe's contrarianism has moved into the mainstream and a few of his old critical targets now seem like fish in a barrel. Granted, Wolfe still does some very entertaining barrel-shooting. He may be best, in fact, when he can openly admire his nonfiction subjectsÄthe astronauts of The Right Stuff or the computer pioneers in this collection's "Two Young Men Who Went Out West" or the neuroscientist Edward O. Wilson in "Digibabble." His fans will love to see him still so full of fight, and readers of A Man in Full will be intrigued by "Ambush at Fort Bragg," an included novella about "gotcha" TV news that was originally part of last year's larger novel. For public libraries.ÄNathan Ward, "Library Journal" Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Arch, vengeful and incisive as ever, the standard bearer for the chattering classes is back, this time with a collection of nine previously published essays, one new one and a reprinted novella. Ranging from the spectacular innovations of neuroscience to the preposterous horrors of the contemporary art world to a bare-knuckled assessment of the critical reception to his novel A Man in Full (an essay that appears for the first time in this collection, and that will set tongues wagging), the pieces run the gamut of Wolfe's signature obsessions. Fans of his character sketches will relish "Two Young Men Who Went West," a revelatory profile of Robert Noyce, a key innovator of the microchip who founded Intel in 1968, where the midwestern Congregationalist values he shared with his former mentor, William Shockley (founder of the original Silicon Valley startup, Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory), grew into a business philosophy that's now so pervasive it's practically in the ether. Also included are Wolfe's infamous, irreverent profiles of New Yorker editors Harold Ross and William Shawn, originally published in 1968. Lopped off of Wolfe's most recent fiction opus, the novella "Ambush in Fort Bragg" concerns a "TV sting" run amok, and sits easily next to his journalism. However, Wolfe's meticulous eye for detail shows signs of jaundice in his hectoring anti-Communist tirades and in the title essay, which turns a snide backward glance on the turn of the millennium. Still, his fans will find plenty of evidence that Wolfe remains willing to plunge into "the raw, raucous, lust-soaked rout that throbs with amped-up octophonic typanum all around [him]" and thatDespecially in his nonfictionDhe can still grab the brass ring. Agent, Janklow & Nesbitt Associates. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.