HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE MAN IN THE WHITE FLANNEL SUIT: Tom Wolfe, who, as anybody who’s read this site for a while knows is my favorite author, is 73 today.


All of his books are worth seeking out, but I’d recommend particularly Radical Chic, for its backstage look at sixties liberalism at its apogee; The Bonfire of the Vanities to see how Wolfe jumpstarted the dying tradition of the Great American Novel; and Hooking Up, as a definitive look at the major issues preoccupying America right before 9/11. Hooking Up also contains “Tiny Mummies”, Wolfe’s mid-sixties “murderous gutter journalism” balloon-popping of The New Yorker’s pretensions, which put him on the map as a writer to be reckoned with, but remained out of print for almost 35 years.

Wolfe’s anthology of non-fiction, The New Journalism has been out of print since the mid-1970s, but is well worth seeking out for any budding writer who wants a how-to of Wolfe’s techniques, and a great collection of the best non-fiction writers of the 1960s and early 1970s, a golden era of journalism.


Last year, R. Emmitt Tyrrell gave us a brief preview of Wolfe’s next novel, which will be on a subject Wolfe has wanted to cover since at least the mid-1980s: the American university scene. As Tyrrell wrote:

I never probe too deeply when Tom is at work on a novel. It just does not seem like the right thing to do. But from what he has let slip about this latest work, I suspect the American university is about to suffer a staggering expose. Wolfe will leave his readers not only outraged but laughing — that is the cruelest cut of all.

I’ll be first in line when it hits the streets.


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