Tom Wolfe

You will probably want to read a great, and long, piece in Vanity Fair called “How Tom Wolfe Became … Tom Wolfe.” When I first heard he was something of a conservative I decided I would tackle one of his tomes, and he does write tomes. I’ve since read three, I think. They are not scholarly as tome implies, but they are long and full of detailed observations about everything you can imagine, and some things you can’t, or don’t want to. I think specifically of a scene in his book A Man in Full, where he describes how race horses breed, something I’d rather not have known in such detail. But his keen insights into human nature are worth the price of admission. The author of the piece, Michael Lewis, tells how he discovered Wolfe, and his love for writing as a pre-teen, from picking up a Wolfe book off his parents bookshelf:

At some point came a thought that struck with the force of revelation: this book had been written by someone. Some human being must have sat down and scribbled the Hardy Boys series, along with theLegends of the NFL—how else would I have ever known that Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Bob Lilly lifted a Volkswagen by himself? I’d never really stopped to ask who had written any of those books, because … well, because it didn’t matter to me who had written them. Their creators were invisible. They had no particular identity. No voice. Now rolling around a living-room floor in New Orleans, Louisiana, howling with laughter, I asked a new question: Who wrote this book? Thinking it might offer a clue, I searched the cover. Right there on the front was a name!!! Tom Wolfe. Who was Tom Wolfe?

Lewis does a good job of getting a sense of who the man is.