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Hooking Up [Paperback]

Tom Wolfe
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

12 Oct 2001 033048611X 978-0330486118 New edition
Tom Wolfe, the internationally acclaimed author of The Bonfire of the Vanities, returns to the origins of his success with his first collection of essays and short fictin for twenty years.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New edition edition (12 Oct 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033048611X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330486118
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,591,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tom Wolfe was born in 1931. He has written for The Washington Post and The New York Herald Tribune and is credited with the creation of 'New Journalism'. Between 1984 and 1985 Wolfe wrote his first novel The Bonfire of the Vanities in serial form for Rolling Stone magazine. The novel was published in 1987. It was number one of the New York Times bestseller list for two months and remained on the list for more than a year. He is the author of sixteen books, among them such contemporary classics as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and I Am Charlotte Simmons. He lives in New York City.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Tom Wolfe's Hooking Up is an oleo of reportage, fiction, and acrimonious name calling. This last, of course, makes for the best reading. In "My Three Stooges", Wolfe reviles the three big men of American letters--Updike, Mailer and Irving--who cast aspersions on his second novel. Apparently, "the allergens for jealousy were present. Both Updike and Mailer had books out at the same time as A Man in Full, and theirs had sunk without a bubble. With Irving there was the Dickens factor". Wolfe gets in a lot of figures about what a big hit his book was with the reading public, and a few gentle reminders about other writers who were big hits of their time, little guys like Mark Twain and Tolstoy.

Equally bitter fun are his two famous 1965 satires from the New York Herald Tribune. As always, Wolfe's titles lead you a good way into the actual stories: "Tiny Mummies! The True Story of the Ruler of 43rd Street's Land of the Walking Dead!" and "Lost in the Whichy Thickets: The New Yorker". Wolfe, clothes horse of note, gets off some of his best cracks at the expense of New Yorker editor William Shawn's fashion sense: "He always seems to have on about twenty layers of clothes, about three button-up sweaters, four vests, a couple of shirts, two ties, it looks that way, a dark shapeless suit over the whole ensemble, and white cotton socks". The rest of the reported pieces are unexceptional, and while the novella, Ambush at Fort Bragg, makes the most of its setting--a Dateline-like newsmagazine--it lacks the irresistible momentum required to drag most readers into a novella. Still, it's fun to watch the author reprise his lifelong role of unlikely underdog: Between his sniping at the literary elite and his mocking of the precious New Yorker set, Tom Wolfe makes like a defender of the common man. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"I love Tom Wolfe... Whenever some big bizarro thing happens...I want the man in the white suit to do his usual exhaustive reporting, turn the labels inside out and hypocrites upside down...and tell me what's what in one of those jittering, dazzling riffs of his" (Margaret Dowd New York Times Book Review)

"Delicious" (Entertainment Weekly)

"The finest essayist-cum-novelist-cum-reporter of our era, Wolfe combines lively writing and endless energy with an astonishingly astute, ever-curious eye" (Forbes Magazine)

"A great introduction to Wolfe the nonfiction stylist" (Newsweek) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a very mixed bag 7 Nov 2001
As a great admirer of much of Tom wolfe's work (especially the two huge novels) I was expecting quite a lot from this collection. Unfortunately it is a very mixed and uneven read. Starting with an excellent piece on the developers of much of the high tech revolution and also containing a reasonable "novella"
On the other hand we do have a lengthy reaction to the critcism of a Man in Full by other heavyweight novelists, which whilst valid points were made, sounded like a lenghty and petulant rant and was frankly very broing
Other pieces touch on philosiphy, science and jounalism. Interesting to some maybe, but not always that gripping to me, although his fine sense of humour does shine through.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Always readable 28 Jan 2001
By A Customer
Tom Wolfe could make the telehone directory interesting. Here he brings his exuberant prose to bear on a range of matters from the important to the trivial. A biographical essay on the founder of Intel doesn't sound a gripping prospect but Wolfe turns it into a classic story of All American success - he gives it a narrative drive focussed on an honest individual with a vision conquering over the cynical establishment in New York. A continuing obsession for Wolfe - which is there in many of these pieces - is the success of the American Dream - energetic, new, creative, democratic - against the stifling European traditions of old money, cynicism, safety, order, etc. I enjoyed that piece, and the essays on the new Darwinism - again he makes it work by personalising it into a battle between particular academics. The novella Ambush at Forth Worth is throughly enjoyable if slight. The piece in which he lays into John Irving, Norman Mailer, and John Updike is irresistable, but shows Wolfe's vanity and trivial tendencies at their worst - surely he sees how lame he sounds when bragging about the quality of his novel based on some of the reviews, and the number of sales!
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars americana 22 May 2003
By A Customer
Unlike other reviewer,I haven`t read his two big books,but big fan of his New Journalism (read in late 70s,growing up in the U.K.). I`ll disagree with him about the `Three Stooges` piece about Man In Full...it`s the kind of literary crticism I like; gossipy,thoughtful,and educative about the tough business of writing. The rest I can live without,being all too rooted in American issues...also he seems to be turning into a bit of a P.J. O` Rourke,and some of his journalism/thought on European/British cultural issues might ne interesting.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  83 reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Uneven Collection 30 Nov 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
OK, let me begin by saying that Tom Wolfe is one of my favorite authors. He does his homework, has an eye for detail and an exquisite (ooh...there's that word!) way of bending the English language to his purposes. So, I'm a fan.
However, I found "Hooking Up" to be less than I expected or hoped for. Other reviewers have commented on the dubious relevance of some of the essays, and I agree. The piece on the NY Times was well-written, as usual, but I just didn't care about the topic. It seemed to be a little too shrill, a little too self-serving...but in the end I just didn't care.
"Ambush At Fort Bragg" was deadly in its aim, but the sexual content bordered on pornographic (I say this even as I admit that it fit the context of the story) and, frankly, I'm just a tad weary of such things.
Mr. Wolfe is at his best when he takes aim at current social, philosophic and scientific issues, and dissects them, layer by layer, exposing the good with the bad. He does this in a number of essays in this collection, and that is the saving grace for this book. If you're a Tom Wolfe fan, by all means - buy the book. If you're not familiar with his work but want to be, there are better choices.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not dead yet: a satirist outlasts just about all his targets 3 April 2001
By The Sanity Inspector - Published on Amazon.com
After twenty years, Tom Wolfe is back with another collection of essays of social criticism. Throughout much of the Eighties and Nineties, it seemed that he had been overtaken by the changing times, as every satirist eventually must be. The sprayer of irony one day finds himself drowing in it. His two smash novels pointed to new directions for him.
But here is this grab bag of old and new material, picking right up where his last such, 1980's _In Our Time_, left off. He didn't include any of his very witty caricatures here, though-too bad. One of the essays, "My Three Stooges", a barrel-roll around his literary competition, would have been a good forum for them.
That piece, "My Three Stooges" is a terrific rejoinder to his critics in thenortheasternliberalliteraryestablishment. The writers who inhabit the Long Island-Martha's Vinyard-rural New England triangle have been so increasingly irrelevant to the rest of American life that it's all the New York literary taste-makers can do to keep them afloat. This may be the knock-out blow for them, as Wolfe touts the vital but neglected role of reportage in bringing the parade of American life successfully to print.
Wolfe's style has remained rather static over the years. He still uses his familiar panoply of ellipses, italics, and repetition, though the pages are not as annoyingly snowy with them as in his earlier days. Mysteriously, he recycled a _lot_ of snappy turns of phrase from earlier books. I mean, verbatim passages of description, "gold chains twinkling in his chest hairs," "hung their hides over the edge," "Please God, don't let me look old," to list a very few, all made memorable appearances in his work decades ago. Plus, the use of tell-tale brand names as punchlines makes some older essays sound stale, as those brands have lost their cachet or stigma over the years.
The collection has its strengths and weaknesses, of course, like all collections of anything do. _The Right Stuff_ notwithstanding, Wolfe is not a science writer, and his two essays on sociobiology here feel like oversimplifications. There's surely room for satire in that field, but this doesn't feel like his best work. The horselaugh at _The New Yorker_'s expense is a cute souvenir of Sixties New York, but no more than that. And "Ambush at Fort Bragg" confused a lot of people, perhaps because the story didn't tell them what to think about the events. Just enjoy the characterizations, then. A more detailed acknowledgements section would be useful, showing when and where these pieces are from.
But "Two Men Who Went West" is a very interesting tale about the birth of Silicon Valley and its unique corporate culture. "In the Land of the Rococo Marxists" is a richly deserved, exquisitely drawn out sneer at pampered academic radicals, and how they have coped with their side losing the Cold War. "The Invisible Artist" is a surprisingly affectionate account of the career of Frederick Hart. And the introduction to the book, "Hooking Up" is vintage Wolfe, modern mores seen through the uncomprehending eyes of a deftly-detailed ordinary joe.
So everything old is new again! The reporter-satirist-novelist-reporter still has a sharp eye for the current scene, even if his style is flash-frozen in time. A must for Wolfe fans.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wolfe is the Mac-Daddy of American Greatness 30 Jun 2002
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
If you love living in America, if you're thrilled by the raw courage of entrepeneurial effort that explodes into success, and if you refuse to accept the center-left line America's liberal elite wants to hand you, then Tom Wolfe is your go-to guy. He's hard-working, brilliant, and writes like a man playing a burning piano.
Although many know him best for his novels like "Bonfire of the Vanities" and "A Man in Full", you're missing his best work if you don't read the essay collections like "Hooking Up". In this volume, we get the true story behind the birth of Silicon Valley, a tale of a great artist no one knows because he possesses actual skill, a novella skewering the television news magazines, and several other gems.
If you have a Wolfe collection, add this book to it. If you don't have a Wolfe collection, start one!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soundly Intelligent, Great Sense of Humor 27 Mar 2001
By K.E. Culbertson - Published on Amazon.com
I came to "Hooking Up" after having finished Paul Johnson's "Intellectuals," another great study of thought and its effect in our society. I've actually met Tom Wolfe at Duke Univ., and was struck by how open and sensible he was. This collection of essays is more than a humorous and hip read: it's responsible. The research and journalism are sound; the depth of humanity displayed in the exposition of it is touching. The defense of Naturalism in "My Three Stooges" is something that one would have thought went without saying, but for the past four decades, hasn't. It is so good to see the inward-looking, self-absorbed writers like Updike falling at last by the wayside. Updike's problem is that he never went out into the crazy carnival of American life and lived, took chances, felt emotion in extremis, or at least spent time with people who live in these states. With Updike and Irving (Norman Mailer was always more of a self-promotion specialist than a good writer), writing is an intellectual parlor game: good for themselves, but not so exciting for the rest of us. It's nice to see Wolfe having the final word here. He's a breath of fresh air. His writing, like his lifetime pursuits, are concerned with us, all of us. He is truly the closest we've had in two generations to a writer who can at least claim pretentions of carrying the mantel of Dickens.
28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best! 17 Nov 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I first read a favorable review of this book in The Wall Street Journal so I bought it because I enjoyed Mr. Wolfe's other books. I then read a New York Times review which wasn't really a review but a political diatribe against the author.
After actually reading the book I find that his style and observations so compelling and interesting that I can't believe I was reading the same book as the Time's reviewer.
Mr. Wolfe's story about his run-in with Mailer, Updike and Irving is very funny and rings true. The sales numbers tell the story.
"The Invisible Artist" is another favorite.
I only wish Mr. Wolfe would write a piece about the election fiasco and split in the country.
I also wish he would write more material and more often as he is a national treasure.
His journalistic based style is similar to that of Neal Stephenson and Richard Dooling. I enjoy those books so much more than Updike's pondering himself.
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