Wolfe sat down and wrote Dobell a letter saying everything he wanted to say about the subject, ignoring all conventions of journalism. Dobell removed the salutation "Dear Byron" from the top of the letter and published the notes as the article. This was the birth of The New Journalism , in which some journalists and essayists experimented with all sorts of literary techniques, including free association, italics, and exclamation marks even multiple exclamation marks within the construct of a non-fictional article or essay.
In a collection of his articles in this style was published under the title The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby and Wolfe's fame grew. He wrote on popular culture, architecture, and politics, and other topics that interested him. His defining work from this era is The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test , which epitomized the decade of the s for many.
Although a conservative in many ways and certainly not a hippie, Wolfe became one of the notable figures of the decade. In Wolfe published The Right Stuff , an account of the pilots who became America's first astronauts. Famously following their training and unofficial, even foolhardy, exploits, he likened these heroes to "single combat champions" of an earlier era, going forth to battle on behalf of their country. 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.
I am on a bit of a Tom Wolfe kick and him finding it generally pretty enjoyable. It is about racial and class differences. I thought the conclusion was weak and a little bit out of kilter. But the overall story was interesting and did a bit of winding about in some interesting territory. The story occurs at the end of the 20th century and although that is only 20 years ago it loses a good deal of currency in the f I am on a bit of a Tom Wolfe kick and him finding it generally pretty enjoyable.
The story occurs at the end of the 20th century and although that is only 20 years ago it loses a good deal of currency in the fact that one of the major incidents of the book is The alleged sexual assault of a white upper class girl by a black football star. The perception of these kind of incidents today is probably a good deal different than it was even just 20 years ago.
That reality makes how the book plays out Ring something of a false note. The conversion of a year-old good old boy to a better way of thinking is also somewhat questionable. I began my string of Tom Wolfe novels with the bonfire of the vanities which I had heard about for many years. From there I just moved into a couple of additional books of his. In retrospect there is really nothing about this particular book that suggests it is worth going back 20 years to resurrect.
One of the fairly constant subtopics of the book is political spin. We are given constant variations on how different people are seeing the same events and portraying them in different ways so they appear to be to their own advantage either politically or economically. It is something that we are so used to that you hardly even notice it in the book and tell you take a few steps back and realize how often events are spun.
For the characters in Tom Wolfe's new novel, "A Man in Full," it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. For us, though, it's just the best of times. America has found its Charles Dickens. This book is as full of bravado as its brawling hero, Atlanta's most successful real-estate developer. The outlandish Charlie Croker bristles with masculinity, bulges with power, and boasts a back like a Jersey bull.
Bestriding his 29,acre plantation, Charlie can't imagine that the cash-flow troubl For the characters in Tom Wolfe's new novel, "A Man in Full," it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Bestriding his 29,acre plantation, Charlie can't imagine that the cash-flow troubles of his downtown colossus, the Croker Concourse, could ever threaten his one-man empire. Though it costs millions of dollars a year to maintain the herd of thoroughbred horses, the meadows of quail, and his young second wife, Charlie knows that this antebellum fantasy is the perfect setting for conquering clients.
Besides, a real man "deserves a quail plantation. In fact, this novel is preoccupied with what a real man is and deserves. It will be interesting to watch the critical and popular response to a book that focuses so exclusively on male definition - both physical and ethical - while the few women characters are consigned to the wings or, worse, to ancient misogynist stereotypes. Meanwhile, the men who fill this novel are memorable types but never clichs.
Wolfe knows how to build masculine characters from the outside in, with comic physical descriptions that reveal their personalities. Inman Armholster, for instance, a pharmaceutical baron who built his empire on pills, "seemed to be made of a series of balls piled one atop the other. His buttery cheeks and jowls seemed to rest, without benefit of a neck, upon the two balls of fat that comprised his chest, which in turn rested upon a great swollen paunch.
In this mammoth book, Wolfe has a fantastic yarn to tell, and he races through ironic plot parallels at breakneck speed. While Charlie intimidates his wealthy guests by wrestling rattlesnakes on the plantation, a sophisticated black lawyer, nicknamed Roger Too White, is meeting with the football coach from Georgia Tech. The coach has a tricky problem: His star player, a monosyllabic thug named Fareek Fanon, perhaps the most promising football player in America, may have raped the daughter of Atlanta's most powerful businessman.
In this racially divided city, the case is a firebomb ready to explode. For Roger Too White, the assignment provides a chance to ascend even higher in the pantheon of White Establishment, while also aligning himself with the forces of Black Power.
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He's assisted by Atlanta's politically bilingual mayor, who immediately realizes such a rape case could threaten the fragile peace he maintains between the city's vocal black majority and its wealthy white minority. Wolfe's panoramic study of Atlanta - from the burnt-out ghettos crawling with junkies to the palatial corporate offices covered with Persian rugs - won't let us forget that the fundamental issue in American society is the relationship between whites and blacks.
In "A Man in Full," the plantations haven't receded into the past as we'd like to imagine. Wolfe keeps wrestling with the moral challenges that modern life presents amid the promise and chaos of so much material wealth. The white real estate baron watching his empire collapse, the black lawyer grasping for white respect, the bored loan officer fending off an angry mistress, the terrified prisoner fighting for his life - their experiences couldn't be more different. But Wolfe ingeniously forces these paths to converge so that we realize, as one laid-off Croker worker says, "The only real possession you'll ever have is your character.
Fin de sicle, you've met your match. Jun 20, David Lentz rated it really liked it.
Tom Wolfe, a Man in Full – Quadrant Online
The first pages of this novel may rank among some of the best American mainstream fiction ever written. Wolfe certainly took his time in creating his opus maximus and his work ethic is worthy of great respect. I had the sense that Wolfe immersed himself in Atlanta society as the settings and characters seemed incredibly true to life. Wolfe's ear for American dialect showed great range and seemed unfailing in its ability to ring true. The leitmotifs to Epictetus added substance to the work. H The first pages of this novel may rank among some of the best American mainstream fiction ever written.
However, Wolfe went too far in the Epilogue and appears guilty of hubris in asking his devoted readers to succumb to the willing suspension of disbelief that he had laid at their feet. How can we accept the destinies Wolfe has shaped for the great Charlie Croker and Conrad? The essence of the message of Charlie Croker is wise and meaningful and truly American in the denouement. But he strains our credibility which was so wonderfully created in Wolfe's art up to the Epilogue.
A Man in Full
It would perhaps be the ultimate irony if the author in crafting his novel were guilty of the same hubris of his protagonist. Perhaps, if that's true, it only reinforces the verity of the tale and its wisdom. While I have great respect for the writing of Tom Wolfe, sometimes I just think he's too full of himself for words.
Nevertheless, this is a great American tale which I shall always remember. Wolfe is a great American mainstream novelist. Feb 17, Richard Knight rated it it was amazing. I'm dead serious. Tom Wolfe did the impossible with this book by making every last character both likeable, as well as repugnant in their own little way. In other words, he made them into real human beings. This is why something as, unfortunately, commonplace as a rape case is turned into a sprawling nearly Easily in the top five greatest books I've ever read, Tom Wolfe's, A Man in Full, is a modern day classic that has just as much to say about humanity as Uncle Tom's Cabin or The Jungle.
This is why something as, unfortunately, commonplace as a rape case is turned into a sprawling nearly pages!
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Every single page is essential to the last. I have to be honest, though. There was one chapter in particular that nearly threw me out of the book completely. While reading it, I thought the whole scenario was a dream sequence since it seemed so out of place. But by the end of the book, even that part, which comes out of nowhere But makes sense given the location it takes place in , seems justified and essential to the rest of the story. Each chapter is expertly strung together, and it's so brilliant, that you can't help but step back and marvel.
Tom Wolfe is a genius, and this is his crowning achievement. Tom Wolfe may not write great female characters, but he is a damned master at writing about the rise and fall of overly self important men in all strata of society. Corporate CEOs, politicians, middle management bankers, athletes, and working class schmoes - he takes us inside their heads where they share largely the same fears, worries, and insecurities. Can I make ends meet on the money I have? How can I get more? Does society respect me?
How can I take the next step ahead? Why does the world appear to be passing me by? What makes a man in full? Tom writes with a reporter's slavish detail to the facts of the plot and the story behind the facts. And, if you need another selling point, Chapter 3 is a true masterpiece where a pompous business exec defaulting on millions in loans shows up to a bankruptcy proceeding and gets taken down by a mid-level bank officer, piece by piece, and reduced to a sweating, cowering milquetoast.
You read that chapter and think, if only this had happened to Enron and Goldman Sachs. Jun 02, Mark Taylor rated it really liked it. Hank Aaron! Phil Niekro! Dale Murphy! Chipper Jones! Martin Luther King! And readers discover a city that the mayor fears could be shattered along racial lines. A Man in Full was a huge best-seller when it was published in It had been 11 years since the smashing success of The Bonfire of the Vanities, and Atlanta! In the run up to publication, Wolfe was featured on the cover of Time magazine. A Man in Full was number one on the New York Times hardcover fiction best-seller list for 10 straight weeks.
The main character of A Man in Full is real estate developer Charlie Croker, who is 60 years old, newly married to a much younger second wife, and deeply in debt.
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Much like Sherman McCoy, the main character in The Bonfire of the Vanities, Croker gets pushed to the brink of ruin during the course of the novel. He goes to prison! He miraculously escapes from prison after an earthquake! However, for all of my complaining about Conrad, the chapter when he has the day from hell, Chapter 11, is wonderfully written. But I doubt it. Was he an adherent of Stoicism?
Did he think that Stoicism would be a useful philosophy for most Americans to follow? The main plot of the book feels quite contemporary, as it concerns an alleged sexual assault. The victim is the white daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta, while the alleged perpetrator is the star running back at Georgia Tech.
Wes Jordan, the black mayor of Atlanta, is up for re-election, and he naturally wants to prevent the situation from escalating into a race riot. So he enlists his old friend Roger White to talk to Charlie Croker and see if Croker will make a statement supporting the running back, thinking that having a prominent white citizen on his side will prevent the issue from splitting along racial lines.
You can judge for yourself how successful he was at creating and writing about these characters. What planet had he been beamed down from? It only shifted. Too many times Wolfe describes a gesture one of the characters makes, and then tells us what it means, which just seems unnecessary. How grateful one can feel then for his failures and his final inability to be great—his absence of truly large compass. He broke down in the fifth round! Norman finally landed that right hook! My own thought is that Irving, Updike, and Mailer were all jealous of the huge sales and media attention Wolfe was garnering.
Wolfe captures the voices of so many different people throughout the book. Even the minor characters are very fully drawn. Jun 28, Kate rated it liked it Shelves: southern-writing. I was introduced to Tom Wolfe through Dixon during my time at Furman. I read I am Charlotte Simmons and loved the way Wolfe was able to capture so many aspects of the college experience. I knew the characters he described, they just had different names and lived in my world instead.
I learned very quickly that Wolfe has the keen ability to write about life in ways that make you think he experienced every subject he writes about--when he wrote The Right Stuff, he was John Glenn and described the o I was introduced to Tom Wolfe through Dixon during my time at Furman.
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I learned very quickly that Wolfe has the keen ability to write about life in ways that make you think he experienced every subject he writes about--when he wrote The Right Stuff, he was John Glenn and described the orbit around the earth with stunning accuracy such that I felt butterflies when the shuttle was reentering the atmosphere with its heat shield partially damaged I may be getting mixed up here on plot details so forgive me if I am incorrect--it may have been a different astronaut.
I think that Wolfe's books have this quality because he is an incredible researcher who will spend years and years learning about the subjects in his books. When he was researching A Man in Full and knew he would have to write about men working in the freezer of a food distribution company, he experienced it himself so that he could write with perfect accuracy--and this is such a minor detail of the story! That being said, I have immense respect for Wolfe and know that when I read one of his books, I am certain to also learn facts about a variety of things that make up multiple human experiences that are quite real.
A Man in Full tells the tale of Atlanta when it was just beginning to become the economic powerhouse that it is today through the character Charlie Croker. Croker embodies that stereotype that everybody knows or at least can relate to--the former football star and southern charismatic who makes it big in the real estate world and loses sight of who he is in the process. There are several other frame stories within the book with characters dealing with their own fates but who all somehow link back to Croker.
I don't want to get too deep into the plot here, but I will say that the book is incredibly complex, but brilliantly complex such that every part that seems ancillary actually plays a significant role in the final outcome. It is exciting to see it all come together and I would especially recommend this book if you are from Atlanta because there are rumors floating about that several of the characters were based on actual figures. This is a book for those of you who love to see the greedy fall or have interests in race relations, politics and the mysterious ways of the South.
There is a lot of build up to the plot in the beginning--mainly Wolfe setting his stage with at times extraneous details--but it is worth trudging through because the extra layers of complexity make the plot even more fascinating. May 25, Salman Shariff rated it really liked it. I remember that when I first picked up this book it was missing the first 30 pages.
The reason is because someone had torn them out to use as toilet paper or to roll up joints or to keep score on during card games. This was in the federal detention center in Miami. I read it anyway.
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They actually had another copy of this book on the cart that looked like it was in new condition, but that copy was in Spanish. My spanish was intolerable at best, and I considered completing my spanish language lear I remember that when I first picked up this book it was missing the first 30 pages. My spanish was intolerable at best, and I considered completing my spanish language learning quest just to read the version that was untouched.
That was impractical considering my situation, so I read the English version with the first 30 pages missing. I'm happy with my decision because this is an excellent read. One of the main characters even ends up in prison - something I could relate to. I liked the writing style and the different stoylines and how they tied together.
I can see why Tom Wolfe is considered such a great author. A couple years later still imprisoned I actually convinced some other inmates to read this one and they did and they also enjoyed it. I also read a copy later on that had ALL the pages in it. Nice work Mr. Sep 04, Will Bradley rated it did not like it. Characters: Multitudes of self-absorbed, petty characters, most of whom we unfortunately have omniscient access to, and yet none of whom are remotely sympathetic. They are so unlikeable that none of them like themselves.
Message: Murky and internally conflicted. That describes each character individually, and the work as a whole. The only consistent theme is lack of self-confidence, which is shared by everyone. I picked this up on the recommendations of several people whose opinions I respect greatly. However it reminds me of other authors whose success seems to make them feel immune to editing. Pages and pages of redundant description and scene setting take up the majority of the book, while contributing little to its makeup, and nothing at all to its enjoyability.
And for all that careful setup, the ending feels extremely rushed, and whatever message there may have been is contradicted in the epilogue, which seems to have been tacked on as an afterthought. I'll go ahead and admit it: he might not be a "great" writer, but I like Wolfe all the same. He has a smooth, flowing style and, though he tends to overindulge--I doubt this book needed to be pages long to achieve the same effect--he fashions a compelling narrative. A little complexity and unpredictability couldn't hurt his characters, but nonetheless Wolfe makes you come away feeling somehow emotionally connected to even the most contemptible plutocrat.
Readers also enjoyed. About Tom Wolfe. Tom Wolfe. Tom Wolfe spent his early days as a Washington Post beat reporter, where his free-association, onomatopoetic style would later become the trademark of New Journalism. In books such as The Electric Koolaid Acid Test, The Right Stuff , and The Bonfire of the Vanities , Wolfe delves into the inner workings of the mind, writing about the unconscious decisions people make in their lives. Croker, like Sherman in Bonfire, is about to be hideously denuded. Now we switch to a spiffy black lawyer, Roger White, as he drives to an urgent appointment with Buck McNutter, coach to the local football team.
McNutter, a Mississippi Cracker with a neck that seems to be 'unit-welded' to his shoulders, has a problem in the person of his star player, Fareek Fanon, an ex-ghetto boy who now wears a gold chain 'so chunky you could have used it to pull an Isuzu pickup out of a red clay ditch'. Fareek has just been accused of raping the year-old daughter of a white Atlanta bigwig - Croker's old buddy Inman Armholster!
The next chapter, mysteriously entitled 'The Saddlebags', is the best thing in the book. Croker has been called in for a breakfast meeting with the 'workout team' at PlannersBanc, where he owes half a billion dollars. The stage has been lovingly set. Croker is seated facing the unbearable glare of the early sun, with a paper mug of coffee smelling of 'incinerated PVC cables' and a 'huge, cold, sticky, cheesy, cowpie-like cinnamon-Cheddar coffee bun that struck terror in the heart of every man in the room who had ever read an article about arterial plaque or free radicals'.
For the 'orientation' of the workout team is now 'post-goodwill'; and Croker, once so eagerly wined and dined has descended to the status of 'shithead': 'Shithead was the actual term used at the bank and throughout the industry. Bank officers said 'shithead' in the same matter-of-fact way they said 'mortgagee', 'co-signer', or 'debtor', which was the polite form of 'shithead', since no borrower was referred to as a debtor until he defaulted.
This comes when the two patches of sweat from the shithead's armpits finally converge on his sternum, and his breasts look like saddlebags. With the appearance, now, of the black Mayor, we seem ready for a most welcome reheat of Bonfire: a smug nabob will crash and burn across the racial fault line. But here the novel lurches off in an unexpected direction - and it depresses me to have to report, for instance, that the mouthwatering duo of McNutter and Fareek will absent itself for pages.
Instead we meet Conrad Hensley, an entirely and entirely improbably wholesome young man employed as a 'product humper' or 'freezer picker' at a Croker meat warehouse near Oakland, Calif. Charlie Croker's snap decision - 15 per cent layoffs - sets the wronged Conrad on a course that will lead him, over several chapters, to one of the greatest anti-epiphanies that American life can offer. Imagine: you're in the 'reeking lizard cage' of Santa Rita Rehab Centre, and the big ponytailed shot-caller named Rotto comes strolling across the pod room to ask you for a date.
And not nicely. All the prison stuff is so harrowing and comic and above all thorough that you feel that Wolfe, going about his famous 'research' must have served at least a five-year term.