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Tom Wolfe and the God of Things As They Are
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I share the general sadness—which I think is particularly felt among us of the stone-kicking community—at the passing of the writer Tom Wolfe. Reviewing his novel I Am Charlotte Simmons, I prefaced my review with some general expressions of admiration, thus:

How does this conservative look forward to a new Tom Wolfe novel? Let me count the ways.

The political incorrectness. Well, not exactly that. Tom Wolfe takes no point of view, has no bill of goods to sell. He just calmly, coolly records the way things are, the way people look and talk, the commonplace, mostly harmless, prejudices and solidarities that have survived 30 years of relentless media and educational indoctrination against them. Among the characters in I Am Charlotte Simmons are basketball players named Treyshawn, Dashorn, Cantrell, Vernon, and André. Would you care to hazard a guess as to what color they are? A Jewish student, trying to get out of trouble with a Jewish professor, makes sure “to let it be known that his family was Jewish, by packing his great-grandparents, pogroms in Eastern Europe, fear of being forcibly dragooned into military service in Poland, Ellis Island, the Lower East Side, and sweatshops into a single sentence, without losing track of the syntax …” For goodness’ sake, Tom, don’t you know you’re not supposed to notice this stuff?

The class angle. Modern U.S. society is addled with class snobbery. Poor and rural Americans are coarse-looking, ill-dressed, speak in dialect, and have lousy dietary habits. Rich suburban and high-urban Americans would much rather have nothing to do with them. When confrontations do occur, the rustics are insecure but defensive, the rich patronizing but impatient, with a frisson of guilt. Again, these are things known to everyone, but we are not supposed to notice them. Wolfe does notice them, and draws them to a “t.”

The cold eye. I don’t know how the future will rank Tom Wolfe as a novelist, but he is a simply terrific journalist. Oh, sure, he exaggerates some when writing fiction to get the effects he wants; but you could put a Wolfe novel under a steel-mill press and not squeeze a single drop of sentimentality out of it. Wolfe’s authorial tone to the reader is: You don’t have to like this, and I’m not too crazy about it myself, but this is the way it is, and we both know it. Our society is awash with the grossest kind of sentimentality — in movies and TV, saturating the sappy nostrums of the Sunday magazine-supplements and corporate mission statements, pouring in from self-help cranks, victim-industry moaners and weepers, love-the-world useful-idiot politicians and Oprah-fied pain-feelers. Wolfe is the antidote to all this sugary glop. There isn’t enough of him to have much effect, unfortunately; but when you’re drowning in treacle, the merest squirt of lemon juice is refreshing. Wolfe worships the God Kipling worshipped, The God of Things As They Are.

Gray’s Anatomy. This fine old classic must never be far from Wolfe’s working area. He is exquisitely precise about the naming of body parts. Who can forget the young attorney’s sternocleidomastoid muscles in Bonfire of the Vanities? In this new book there is an iliac crest or two, but the main concentration of anatomical attention is on the absurdly pumped-up — jacked! ripped! — upper bodies of the athletes and frat boys. Lats, traps, delts, abdominals — here we are in all the sweaty narcissism of modern gym culture.

Typographical vitality. A copy editor once sent back a manuscript of mine with all the italics, semicolons, dashes, parentheses, and exclamation marks stripped out. She was, I learned later, a disciple of some dogmatic imbecile — was it Strunk? — who had pronounced that the barest text was the best text. Well, the hell with her, and him. Our Tom shares my opinion that every key on the keyboard is there to be used, including the shift key. In I Am Charlotte Simmons he has even ventured a typographic innovation (I think — it is new to me, at any rate): using strings of colons for ellipses in interrupted or disconnected thought. Like this:

::::::trying not to look at him::::::the condom, the ball-peen hammer::::::the undertow again::::::the Doubts::::::more time::::::can’t think spinning like this!::::::Look, Hoyt::::::just wait a second, okay?::::::

Neat plotting. Wolfe isn’t one of the great plotters — not a Wodehouse, not even a Trollope — but he understands the principles of moral balance and equity that make a novel satisfying to the reader. Virtue need not triumph, but ought at least survive; evil need not be routed, but ought at least be chastened; and there must be a sufficient number of secondary characters we are sufficiently interested in that the author’s giving us some hint of their subsequent fate at the book’s end adds minor satisfactions to the major ones.

Dramatic variations of depth. Here a 500-word description of a seedy disco, all the details colored in: there a discussion of sociobiology. Here a blow-by-blow account of a college basketball game: there a rumination on neuroscience. Wolfe manages not to be show-offy with the intellectual stuff he puts into the novel. It’s pretty basic anyway, and mainly there just to moor his characters’ pleasures and sorrows to big old eternal truths. No harm in that, if deftly done.

[Man is Wolfe to Man,” National Review Online; December 3rd, 2004.]

The title on that review reminds me that Tom inspired one of the regrettably tiny number of genuine witticisms I have ever uttered in a life of slow thinking and staircase wit.

This was at a private dinner some years ago. There were fifteen or twenty of us around the table, including Tom Wolfe and TV producer Perry Wolff.

Now, Tom could be a little prickly—testy in disagreement. He was gifted with self-awareness, though; so no sooner had the testiness come out than he regretted it, and tried to make amends.

That’s what happened on this occasion. He had a mild disagreement with Perry Wolff over something, I forget what. (Probably the social value of TV. Perry is a great believer in TV as a force for good. Tom was more skeptical.)


Tom said something sharp in response to Perry, and there was a little tension in the air. Realizing this, Tom did the gentlemanly thing, walking back his remark and adding some soothing words. Perry took it in the right spirit, there was relieved laughter around the table (there might even have been applause, I don’t recall), and the two men shook hands collegially, smiling.

“Ah,” I said, “Wolfe is man to Wolff.”

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Tom Wolfe 
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  1. dearieme says:

    “Wolfe is man to Wolff.” A palpable hit, old fruit. For the first time in my life I type LOL.

  2. 36 ulster says:

    Ah yes, “staircase wit”–l’ espirit de l’ escalier. Ex post facto. Describes my best lines exactly. In that ESPIRIT, it’s time to buy a few of Mr. Wolfe’s books (FROM BAUHAUS TO OUR HOUSE, RADICAL CHIC, and IN OUR TIME were my previous purchases) Thanks for your appreciation of Mr. Wolfe’s work, Monsieur Derb.

  3. gsjackson says:

    Wish he hadn’t departed without clarifying the intellectual journey he seemed to travel between the rigid social determinism of Charlotte Simmons (its title a clear satirization of the assertion of individuality, by God and by His creatures — “I am” — when we’re all mere social artifacts), and the glorious freedom to create unbound by evolution and determinism that is suggested in his last book, The Kingdom of Speech.

    All the valentines he sent to the neuro-psychology boys in Charlotte Simmons and elsewhere — I always thought he had it wrong, and he himself stood as a refutation of those still (decades later) unproven theories about understanding all human behavior by mapping the brain.

    A great, great writer. George Gilder once said that he thought The Electric KoolAid Acid Test was the greatest book ever written. I’m inclined to agree. RIP.

    • Replies: @Miro23
  4. For some historical background on elite white liberal negrophilia, read Wolfe’s Radical Chic (1970). In it he depicts a fundraiser for the Black Panthers given by conductor Leonard Bernstein.

  5. Ivy says:

    Wolfe provided many prescient warnings of dangers and obstacles in our modern American life. His literary gifts and new phrases will be missed. Who will be a worthy successor?

  6. Wolfe was very smart and well-educated, a gifted stylist, and did his homework, but he seems to skim along the surface of his subjects. He might reply that the surfaces are where the action is, but for irreverent caricature of outward forms I find cartoonist R. Crumb even more audacious and more deadly. Though Crumb does not delve into specialties like modern art or neuroscience.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  7. Anon[425] • Disclaimer says:

    The guy who looks like a young Wolfe is Wes Anderson.

    A degenerating culture.

    • Replies: @Zumbuddi
  8. Radical Chic can be found here:

    A masterpiece.

  9. Wolfe was a fun and sometimes useful read. Bonfire equipped me well for the types I met in my venture into banking and living on the UES of Manhattan, complete with its social butterflies and too many events that cost too much money.

    • Replies: @Bugg
  10. anonymous[629] • Disclaimer says:

    Yes, Wolfe “noticed” . Then again unless one is willfully blind or, worse, intellectually dishonest, how could one not “notice. Thus, Wolfe had an eye for the obvious. But to take what should be self-evident observations and convert them into literary masterpieces is a God-given talent. R.I.P., Tom.

    • Replies: @Anon
  11. Dennis says:

    “In I Am Charlotte Simmons he has even ventured a typographic innovation (I think — it is new to me, at any rate): using strings of colons for ellipses in interrupted or disconnected thought”

    He was probably just afraid to use ellipses because it would look too much like an obvious rip-off of Louis-Ferdinand Céline. So, he converted the ellipses into colons in order to appear to have done something innovative, exciting, and new. Meh.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  12. “Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers” has a priceless scene of a lefty professor dazzling a bunch of white Cadillac liberal students with her reading of Eldridge Cleaver, but drawing only derision from the few ghetto blacks in her class.

  13. Miro23 says:

    A great, great writer. George Gilder once said that he thought The Electric KoolAid Acid Test was the greatest book ever written. I’m inclined to agree.

    Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters with their 1964 Acid Tests were probably the start of the Hippy Era, and Tom Wolfe did catch it brilliantly in “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”, with his interested but detached style.

    Now, more than half a century later, it all seems to be wrapping up. Kesey died 17 years ago, Cher is 71, Jane Fonda is 81, Mick Jagger is 75, and the pendulum is swinging the other way, probably with some Conservative/Traditionalist type of “Acid Tests” but without Tom Wolfe to record them.

  14. utu says:

    Wolfe worships the God Kipling worshipped, The God of Things As They Are.

    Maybe. His ambition was even greater. He wanter to be American Honoré de Balzac of late 20 century. He wanted to write the series of novels like La Comédie Humaine to show how American really is including all social strata.

    “I have learned more [from Balzac] than from all the professional historians, economists and statisticians put together”. (Engels)

    • Agree: Dieter Kief
  15. I never heard of this Wolfe, but it does not matter.
    I saw the sentence
    ” packing his great-grandparents, pogroms in Eastern Europe, fear of being forcibly dragooned into military service in Poland, ”
    A great sentence, of course inhabitants of Poland loved those who refused to fight for the land they lived in.
    Solsjenytsyn describes the same for tsarist Russia.
    The father or grandfather of Bernard Baruch left Germany around 1870, because he hated militarism.
    Translation: he also did not want to fight for the country he lived in.
    I must add that not all jews behaved like this, in WWII many German jews did fight in the German army.

    • Replies: @Captain Willard
    , @Wally
    , @Logan
  16. Like Norman Mailer, I appreciated Tom Wolfe more as a personality than a writer. I think both these guys were overhyped but that’s the nature of NY publishing.

    With one exception: Wolfe’s short brilliant book on the NY art world and the evolution of the visual landfill known as modern abstract painting. Wolfe gets to the heart of the scam like no one else while providing incisive insights and some great laughs along the way. The book is called The Painted Word. Highly recommended.

    • Replies: @Captain Willard
  17. Anon[386] • Disclaimer says:

    One can write as royally well as Wolfe did, and receive no Nobel Prize, and not not be featured in The Guardian’s list of the 100 best novels of 20th century, and so on.

    How? Following one’s penchant for truth; that is how.
    I think it was his realism about mankind to make him overlooked, even before his race realism.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  18. @jilles dykstra

    On Baruch, you’re not even close. His father served as a Confederate surgeon, FFS! Since he was born in 1870, I sure hope his “father or grandfather left Germany around 1870”. Geeze…….

    BTW, plenty of Jews fought for all sides in WWI, including for Germany. Jews routinely served in the various German armies before WWI and unification. Bismarck the Iron Chancellor, in contrast, never saw a day of front-line service.

    But by all means keep trying to justify your anti-Semitism with ridiculous assertions.

    • Replies: @Wally
    , @anon
  19. @JackAlbatross

    Agreed on The Painted Word.

    On NYC, I think being here dulls a writer’s senses. The tension of the 80s which provided the rich setting of “Bonfire” gave way to the monotony and consensus of the Rudy and Bloomberg years. Perhaps he saw the proverbial end of NYC history. Or maybe he had said most of what needed to be said about NYC.

    I think Wolfe realized this and set his later books in Atlanta (Man in Full) and NC (Charlotte Simmons). The struggle for social status is playing out so much more poignantly outside of NYC. ( The last time I saw him was on a flight to North Carolina. He wore his white suit but strangely sat in the Coach section. He appeared awfully frail and this was several years ago.)

    It’s interesting to me that the great satirists of NY mores are southerners like Wolfe and midwesterners like Fitzgerald. The lack of self-awareness here is almost beyond parody and certainly few, if any, New Yorkers could have produced works like these guys did.

  20. Wally says:
    @Captain Willard

    “your anti-Semitism”

    Yawn. So what?

    antisemite: any thought or person that a Jew doesn’t like

  21. Wally says:
    @jilles dykstra

    Indeed, those so called “pogroms” that are claimed in trying get a leg up, but never proved.

    BTW, another inconvenient fact: there were Jews living in Berlin all through WWII.

  22. “Wolfe is man to Wolff.” ??

    I don’t get it. 25-point deduction. Would be more clever as “Wolfe is wolf to Wolff”. Or maybe “Wolfeus lobo Wolffus”. But I amuse myself.

    Wolfe was no Sam Clemens. I could never manage more than the first 5 pages of a Wolfe book. Or a Kesey book, for that matter. Tiresome exercises in personal vanity of author, imo. Overhyped, as Albatross notes.

  23. Zumbuddi says:

    “A degenerating culture.”

    Wolfe as Max Nordau.

    If ever a culture was in need of a new zionism:::::

  24. Sir Q says:

    Yes, “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” was a really fun book, which I read in 1970 and again in 1971, under the influence of various alkaloids. In retrospect, the book (and perhaps Wolfe himself, whose “The Right Stuff” I’d also read in its time) was mostly about painting what we THOUGHT were ‘things as they are’ at the time. Maybe that was his real skill, since in both of these books Wolfe is sort of rendering the official portrait of something, the mythology of it, rather than the reality.

    Having survived both the 60s’ drug-taking and alternative-consciousness era depicted in the former book and the 80s’ Reagan-era of the latter, I perceive Wolfe either wanted to make sure we didn’t see what was behind the current in either era — or perhaps he himself had no inkling what was there, either (which I find difficult to believe).

    • Replies: @Sollipsist
  25. @Anon

    Wolfe was a magnificent social commentator & journalist, but as a novelist he was 3rd rate. There are perhaps tens of thousands of novels, written in major European languages, that leave him in the dust.

    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
  26. @Dennis

    I thought it was the beat poets and their stream-of-conciousness writings that had used ellipses like they were going out of style. Did they get that from this Celine fellow?

    • Replies: @Dennis
  27. Tom Wolfe wrote some interesting books. But no one will remember them in a couple of years. He married (((Sheila Wolfe))) and had Jewish offspring. The daughter, (((Alexandra Wolfe))) married Karenna Gore’s ex-husband, (((Andrew Schiff))). The son Tommy married (((Jena Steinbach))). It seems his Jewish offspring will not let their father’s books live on. Wolfe reminds me of Derbyshire and Chinese wife and Chinese offspring.

    • LOL: Truth
    • Replies: @Rod1963
  28. @Bardon Kaldian

    “Wolfe was a magnificent social commentator & journalist, but as a novelist he was 3rd rate.”

    Updike’s use of language is wonderful, but s0 what? At the end of Couples, I couldn’t have cared less what happened to Piet Hanema or any of them – whereas I was gripped by Sherman McCoy’s predicament.

    I’ve only read him in translation, but I didn’t think Zola’s prose memorable either – yet he paints a vivid picture of mid-19thC France, as Wolfe paints late 20thC America.

    • Replies: @Bugg
  29. @Sir Q

    The most memorable scene in Acid Test for me was the “We blew it!” jam… which, without too much analysis, indicates that Wolfe got it better and sooner than a lot of people. The only better description was in one of Hunter S. Thompson’s books where he described the 60s culture as a wave that rolled in strong, crashed, and rolled back to sea.

  30. Dennis says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    I’m not really familiar with the Beats, but since Céline’s first novel, Journey to the End of the Night, was published in 1932, I assume they stole the style from him (though he used it rather sparingly in his first book. It was from his next novel in 1936, Death on the Installment Plan, the he really started going crazy with the ellipses.

    • Replies: @Mishra
  31. “I don’t know how the future will rank Tom Wolfe as a novelist…”

    To the extent Wolfe is read 200 years from now, it will be as the closest thing the peak-American era had to an Anthony Trollope, a chronicler of societal upheaval. I don’t think they are really comparable, but I am a fan of Trollope.

    • Agree: Dan Hayes
    • Replies: @anon
  32. Bugg says:
    @The Alarmist

    Had a conversation today with my brother, a retired cop, today abut how great “Bonfire” is. I was an first a low level Wall Street intern and then ADA in an NYC outer borough in the same time frame.Amazing how much he got right about courts, police, Wall Street, everything. Right down to reverend Sharpton/Bacon, how he peeled it back and had no problem showing you the reality.And we now have a media that wallows in the clearly false PC artefice and pointedly ignores the reality. So much of the descriptions survive still; Social X-ray, Master of the Universe, Great White Defendant, Piece of Shit Case. In every one of his books, he basically pulled back the curtain and showed you the Wizard and all his frailty. Wolfe will be missed.

  33. Bugg says:

    All I came away with from “The World According to Garp” was Updike hated hockey.

    • Replies: @utu
  34. llloyd says: • Website

    The irony of Bonfire is the whole torment of main character starts when he launched a pre-emptive attack on the young blacks in Haarlem. His car has broken down and they suddenly appear offering assistance. He promptly attacks them and accidently kills one. Was Wolfe predicting the folly of America’s pre-emptive wars? or advocating you encounter young blacks in a dangerous environmet and you must promptly attack them? I got the feeling he meant the latter which is it seems the American mentailty driving their global agenda.

  35. utu says:

    Not Updike but Irving.

  36. Anon[121] • Disclaimer says:

    A southpaw

  37. Mishra says:

    Death on the Installment Plan

    The one and only time the French phrase was shorter than the English.

  38. edNels says:

    Bonfire of the Vanities, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Right Stuff, Radicle Chic and Mau-Mauing.

    Kandy-Colored Tanbgerine-Flake… and Bouhause to Our House! for sure! educational as heck about architecture. These were damned good little books that informed really well about american culture.
    and Painted word was another good one.

    Not too much to say on the later two: Man in Full, or Charlote somethingorother, big formulaic jobs paid by the word to make a buck to go and retire, those first few were great small books I reccoment to young dumb folks to maybe take up reading.

    These books are classic good books because they are short and to the point and go against the tide of endlessly long tiresome boring obscuritanist maya that is the preponderance of printed pulp of our time, quote me if ya want!….

    • Replies: @anon
  39. @llloyd

    “advocating you encounter young blacks in a dangerous environmet and you must promptly attack them? ”

    Yes that seems to be the case most often. Either that or stay far away. Unless you want to end up in a hospital.

    “A former pro wrestler was beaten severely in front of his Mar Vista home Tuesday and neighbors said it all apparently began over a parking dispute. CBS Los Angeles reports as many as six young men beat Tom Magee, who will be 60 in July”

    “YouTube video shows Magee when he weighed 265 pounds and fought with what was then called WWF in the ’80s.

    “A true Goliath in the ring, Magee later became a neighborhood watchdog”

    “Tom came and encountered the young men, and it proceeded to a fight,” says friend Kendall Noxxel.

    Magee suffered a broken jaw, broken eye socket and concussion.

    “LAPD robbery detectives are investigating. Thursday afternoon, they said two men were taken into custody. They were identified as Justin Lee, 20, and Degrate Bryant, also 20”

  40. Logan says:
    @jilles dykstra

    ” packing his great-grandparents, pogroms in Eastern Europe, fear of being forcibly dragooned into military service in Poland, ”
    A great sentence, of course inhabitants of Poland loved those who refused to fight for the land they lived in.

    His great-grandparents fear of being dragooned into military service would have had nothing to do with refusing to fight for Poland. Since Poland didn’t exist at the time.

    In all likelihood, the army in question was that of Russia. Most of the actual Poles did not appreciate the Russian occupation and would not have seen resistance to conscription as “refusing to fight for Poland.” Quite the opposite would be more likely. The Russian army was to a large extent an army designed to fight against Poland.

    • Replies: @James Forrestal
  41. Logan says:

    It’s been a long time since I read it, but that’s not what I recall.

    As I remember, he and his mistress panic when approached by the young men and attempt to flee, accidentally running over one of them in the process. He was running, not attacking.

    • Replies: @gsjackson
  42. gsjackson says:

    Yes, that was clearly how it read. The irony was that the masters of the universe had, by sucking all the wealth up to the top, surrounded themselves with urban spaces they were afraid to go into — in this case as the result of a wrong turn.

    • Replies: @David In TN
    , @anon
  43. Did they laugh at this quite impressive display of lightning wit?

  44. @gsjackson

    And a Master of the Universe had no influence whatsoever in the court system of the city he lived in. Furthermore, Sherman McCoy was perfect for the role of a Great White Defendant to ensure reelection for the Bronx DA.

    I think Steve wrote that the Duke Lacrosse Affair combined “The Bonfire of the Vanities and “I am Charlotte Simmons.” Tom Wolfe’s novels predicted a DA desperate for an issue to save his job with Great White Defendants from a false rape claim involving Duke University.

    • Replies: @gsjackson
  45. Anonymous[164] • Disclaimer says:

    That reminds me of the prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin case; a politically ambitious woman whose name I forget.

    • Replies: @David In TN
  46. @Anonymous

    Exactly. For the Trayvon Martin Affair, a new category was created: A “White Hispanic,” something never before heard of.

    The so-called “White Hispanic” was penciled in as a Great White Defendant.

    • Replies: @Truth
  47. anarchyst says:

    Obtain and watch the movie “Law Abiding Citizen”. I was rooting for the “bad guy” who was after the prosecutor (the “good guy”) for making a deal with the murderer(s) who executed his family.

  48. @Logan

    ” packing his great-grandparents, pogroms in Eastern Europe, fear of being forcibly dragooned into military service in Poland, ”

    His great-grandparents fear of being dragooned into military service would have had nothing to do with refusing to fight for Poland. Since Poland didn’t exist at the time.

    This sentence is not a simple declaration of fact by the narrator. You know that, right? It’s a collection of random vignettes/ allusions, spoken by one of the characters (a Jewish college student), meant to reinforce his historically-poisecuted status, so as to evoke sympathy in his fellow tribesman. It’s an entirely emotionally-based appeal. Assuming that Adam knows (or cares about) the details of the actual history is unwarranted. It’s the disdainful attitude toward military service, toward actually risking one’s life for a host country (whether that host country is Poland, Russia, the US…) that is accurately captured by this snippet of dialogue.

    Given that point, and assuming that “great-grandparents” is actually tightly linked to “military service in Poland” (not really clear, as this is hardly a simple declarative sentence) — Adam is presumably 18 or so, so born in 1986. It’s certainly plausible that he could have had a great-grandfather born in 1900 (average generation of about 27 years).

    What was going on in 1920, when this putative great-grandfather was 20 years old? Poland (which was a country then) was being invaded by Lev Bronstein’s Red Army. Just who do you think fought off the invading Bolsheviks in 1920, hmm? The French Army?

    • Replies: @Logan
  49. gsjackson says:
    @David In TN

    That’s a great observation by Steve. And maybe Wolfe helped set the cultural stage as well. Charlotte Simmons, featuring caddish Duke frat boys, came out a couple years before the Duke lacrosse episode, and may well have predisposed some elements of the chattering class to instinctively believe a crack whore over such monsters, even if they were from the same socio-economic stratum.

    And talk about a politically precarious DA looking for a Great White Defendant. Can’t even remember the creep’s name — guess as a former Duke letterman I’m blocking it out. The university disgraced itself beyond measure in the episode, even Coach K in his silence. As the athletic director who hired him (my old coach) said: “Sometimes you’ve got to put your ass on the line.” K conspicuously didn’t.

    • Replies: @David In TN
  50. His first book I read was the ‘Bonfire of Vanities” and the first couple of pages had me confused for some time. When I figured them out I read them a few more times and that set the tone. From the start to end it was hilarious. What bugged me about Wolfe sometimes is his need to show his knowledge about specific details about western culture. He was a dandy and writes about clothes with the same obsession.
    As the writer of this article says, he was an observer. And in many ways he was a bystander with a smile watching it all; writing it with a loaded sting that made us laugh out aloud.
    RIP Tom Wolfe, we will miss you.

  51. @gsjackson

    His name was Michael (usually “Mike”) Nifong. BTW, Nifong is unrepentant. In a book by an establishment writer a few years ago, Nifong was still claiming “something happened in that bathroom.”

    It might have been the best known case of a DA prosecuting the innocent for political-publicity benefit since Jim Garrison.

    • Replies: @gsjackson
  52. Truth says:
    @David In TN

    Steve Sailer created the “White Hispanic” thing years before Hoodi-T.

    • Replies: @David In TN
  53. gsjackson says:
    @David In TN

    As it happens, I once met Garrison’s victim, Clay Shaw, at my grandfather’s funeral in 1973, and was young and stupid enough to ask about Garrison. Shaw was a fairly accomplished writer, and without rancor subjected Garrison to a withering irony that rendered him a cartoonish character.

    Shaw was a friend of the family, none of whom could remotely imagine his involvement, especially as a supporter of Kennedy. I was convinced by the book The Devil’s Chessboard that the CIA murdered Kennedy, but according to a biographer of Shaw who tracked me down a few years ago as the remnant of the family, Shaw’s only involvement with “the company” was to give them debriefings after some of his numerous travels abroad.

    BTW, Shaw, though a homosexual, was nothing at all like the mincing nancy boy Tommy Lee Jones played him as. Quite the opposite.

    • Replies: @anon
  54. @Truth

    Steve Sailer didn’t use it for Tom Wolfe’s Great White Defendant.

  55. @jack daniels

    The Crumb parallel you draw I find very interesting. There is a naivité in Crumb as in Wolfe, that’s well-earned. Plus: Wolfe loved Freud – while Crumb was obsessed by Freud’s work, at times, at least. (Lots of references in Crumbs work to modern art – – Renoir, lets say, or Hopper).

    Your impression, that Wolfe “seems to skim along the surface of hs subjects” – well: The most important things are usually hidden at the surface – that’s a Nietzsche-thought – and Wolfe not only loved one of the most imortant pupils of Nitzsche (the aformentioned Sigmund Freud), but was deeply – – entwined? – – – roooted in? – – Nietzschean thoughts/ideas, – and Nietzsches prose style at times, too.

    • Replies: @gsjackson
  56. gsjackson says:
    @Dieter Kief

    Wolfe “loved” Freud??? Here’s his standard riff on Freud, as purveyor of the human-being-as-steam-engine theory and principal architect of the sexual revolution:

    Elsewhere he notes that Freud is generally regarded in medical circles today as an unusually humorless quack. These views are put forth without obvious value judgment, but I really don’t think he was a fan.

    The saddest note of all for this thread: I just saw a recent interview with Wolfe where he said he was working on a book on political correctness, saying it was the funniest subject he’d ever encountered. Would love to have gotten my hands on that. So, the baton is passed, Unzies. PC is so overripe for ridicule. Is it C.J. Hopkins, the satirist here who does a good job with it?

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  57. Dan Hayes says:

    Dieter Kief:

    If as you say “Wolfe loved Freud”, it would appear that he expressed his affection in a novel way by stating that “the demise of Freudianism can be summed up in a single word: lithium.”

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
    , @anon
  58. @llloyd

    Very funny. Wolfe leaves the exact involvement of Henry Lamb in the stopping of McCoy’s car vague, but implies that some neighbourhood bad boys had coerced him into it. His car hadn’t broken down but was stopped by an obstruction in the road – iirc an oil drum or similar.

    Are you Tiny Duck’s older brother?

  59. Rod1963 says:

    Yep, ethnic suicide by marriage.

  60. @gsjackson

    Near the end of The Kingdom of Speech, Wolfe mentions Darwin in company with five others whose words changed history: Jesus, Muhammad, John Calvin, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud.

    That Wolfe therefor “loved” Freud might have been a bit too much on my side. But just think of it: One of those five , who definitely changed world history.

    • Replies: @anon
  61. @Dan Hayes

    I know this type of remarks of Wolfe.
    Here he rejects Freudianism, this might make a difference.
    Plus, you might want to look at my answer to gjackson in comment No. 61.

    That Wolfe wrote about PC lately is good news. – The big contemporary realm of – I hope, you don’t mind , – the Freud’s (father Sigmund and daughter Anna) realm of the neurotic defense mechanisms.

    A realm, that is funny, very funnyat times, as it is sad, too. A tension, which results in our uneasiness in culture (because sublimation is no natural thing).

    And not only in the case of the Freudian slip: Humor is one of the ways out of our existential dilemmas – and Wolfe got that big one and belabored it in stunning – perfection, I’d hold.

    I’m grateful to this truly Gentle White (hehe…) – – Giant.

    RIP, Tom Wolfe.

  62. Logan says:
    @James Forrestal

    Good points. I’m afraid the talk of Bonfire of the Vanities led me to extrapolate back in time from the 80s rather than the 00s.

  63. anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Captain Willard

    Actually, the 1880s big leap to America of Jews in Russia and adjacent territories was activated by granting civil liberties to Jews

    Along with civil liberties came civil
    responsibilities such as the draft from which Jews had previously been exempt.
    It wasn’t progroms and anti semitisn that drive them out of Russia it was the draft.

    Every Jewish family has the story of how the ancestors fled to escape the draft in Europe.

    Look who led the anti draft movement during the Vietnam era. Look at the one group that would rather enlist in the Israeli army than the American army.
    There are only 3,900 Jews in the American military, less than there are Buddhists in the military

    There are many European sayings about how Jews are eager to sell cr*p to the military but refuse to join the military

    During WW2 American Jews were famous for conniving their way to comfortable rear echelon jobs.

    • Agree: anarchyst
  64. anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve in Greensboro

    Favorite Trollop novel is The Way We Live Now. Can’t stand those bishops and their wives novels especially Dorothea.

    The CofE clergy made a good living and it was a prestige job, but what a way of life.

  65. anon[257] • Disclaimer says:

    You didn’t read the book did you?

    First, the attack on Sherman wasn’t in Harlem It was in the Bronx on the way to Manhatten from the airport

    Second the vicious thugs put a barricade of trash cans on the freeway on ramp for the purpose of stopping cars so they could rob the drivers steal the cars and probably beat and rape possibly murder the drivers and passengers

    Third Sherman got out of the car to move the trash cans and the thugs appeared asking if they could help.
    Yeah right help

    Fourth The thugs threatening body language and obvious intent to rob or do worse caused Sherman’s friend to start the car, pick up Sherman and get out of that dangerous black crime ridden neighborhood as fast as possible

    Fifth She hit one of the thugs trying to escape robbery and probably worse

    Vicious thug shouldn’t have put the garbage cans there to stop cars for the purpose of robbery and worse.

    There was a similiar MO in San Francisco for the purpose of kidnap and gang rape of the nurses who worked at Kaiser hospital

    A group of very young black teen animals from the Scott projects would lie in wait at the red light starting at 11 pm hunting for women hospital employees getting off work.

    As soon as a lone woman would appear they’d block her car. Not wanting to run them down she’d stop.

    They’d drag her out of the car take her to the basement playroom if the project and gang rape her and steal the car and her other possessions. But they didn’t beat her up.
    The animals got away with it several times before they were caught and Thanks Be To God the victims were able to identify every one of the animals

    Go right ahead. Be a good little liberal and get robbed and worse when blacks attack.

  66. anon[257] • Disclaimer says:

    Bauhaus to your house another one I loved because I hate loathe and despise 20 th century residential architecture and the horrible furniture the communist puritans designed to go in those horrible houses

    I liked mau mauing the flak catcher because I was supposed to be a flak catcher. But I had civil service protection so I told them to go to hell.

    That’s where I learned to hate White liberals more than I hate bkack criminals

  67. anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dieter Kief

    Freud was nothing Medical science has discovered medication to not really cure but alleviate the symptoms of mental illness to the point that it doesn’t affect the lives of those with mental illness.

    His talk about your sex life cure wasn’t a cure at all. It was just a scam and a fraud. He’ll be forgotten like the Galen theory of balancing the 4 humors by administering diuretics, laxatives and emetics till the patient was drained of potassium and electrolytes and died.

    His only affect was to delay the development of mental illness medication n for 100 years, a bad thing.

    For instance Dr Frauds theory of frigidity was based on a 14 year old girl who refused to have a sex relationship with her fathers businesss partner

    Reason Dr Fraud put his patients on a couch and sat behind the patient was so he could write his fraudulent theories and charge a patient for the time.

    What a fraud and conman. One good thing the feminazis did was expose him and his frauds.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  68. anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dan Hayes

    Exactly. Fraudianism delayed the discovery of mental illness medication for 100 years. In another 100 years Dr Fraud will be just a paragraph in the history books.

    Reason Dr Fraud put all the emphasis on sex is that he knew sex sells.

    • Agree: Dan Hayes
  69. anon[257] • Disclaimer says:

    Jim Garrison should have been disbarred for what he did to Clay Shaw. During the Cold War, virtually every American who traveled to soviet countries was debriefed by our intelligence agencies.

    Saw the movie on TV. It was a hoot. The Garrison character never did mention a specific thing Shaw actually did, just a lot of speculation

    • Replies: @dcite
  70. anon[257] • Disclaimer says:

    Not really.

    It was the unholy coalition of ambitious middle class commie Jews and black criminals that destroyed NYC Chicago parts of Los Angeles, Detroit Cleveland Philly on and on all our great cities. A satanic coalition of Jewish liberals and black criminals against the law abiding

    Henry Lamb wasn’t at all poor remember His mother was an affirmative action city employee.

    Remember the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles? Of the 4 men who dragged Reginald Denny out of his truck and beat him almost to death, two of the animals were the sons of Los Angeles county affirmative action employees

    Most of you have never worked with blacks. Amazing how many of the women are the mothers of criminals.

    • Replies: @gsjackson
    , @anarchyst
  71. gsjackson says:

    Yeah, that too. But it officially becomes a war of all against all of the sort Wolfe describes when the losers realize they’ve been had, that virtually all public policy is essentially a scam to funnel money upwards to the (((financial sector))), and reform is impossible.

  72. dcite says:

    um…there was a lot more tying Clay Shaw that whole “event” than being briefed by an intelligence agency. But this is not the thread for that.

  73. @anon

    I know these arguments – they miss out on Freud’s dicovery of the neurotic defense mechanisms – Steve Sailer explicitly said he thinks too, that this is an important discovery.

    And your arguments say nothing against Freud the – – – intellecutal hero per se for – – – no lesser mind than Tom Wolfe’s. Wolfe mentioned no other writer in his pantheon – and nobody from the 20th century – except Freud. Looks like quite something from the perspective of Wolfe.

    I loved – at least four of his books. He enriched my life!


  74. anarchyst says:

    The American “civil-rights (for some)” movement of the 1950s and 1960s was started and spearheaded by New York-based leftist communist jews. In fact, the NAACP was founded and run by jews until the 1960s when blacks finally “got smart” and routed the jewish interlopers. I personally witnessed the so-called “civil-rights” marches and the associated violence that was fomented by these leftist jews. Of course, the “mainstream media” was in on the “fix” as well, conveniently ignoring the jew-led black violence that was taking place, “never letting a crisis go to waste”. We used to have a saying: “Behind every Negro, there is a jew”. No truer words were spoken.

  75. Joe Mack says:

    I don’t know if there is a novelist of the second half of the 20th century that will be read in a year or a hundred other than Wolfe. His writings are from my first year of kindergarten to now. It is my world and no one is clearer. Maybe We Are Doomed for clarity and honesty!

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