Mauve Gloves and Madmen, Clutter and Vine is a collection of essays published in the mid-70s that embody the New Journalism movement which Tom Wolfe helped to found. In New Journalism, the author intermingles literary technique with traditional journalism in order to bring the reader into the piece and make them feel as though they were experiencing it first-hand as opposed to simply reading someone else's account. As one might expect, Tom Wolfe is a more than the titular leader of this movement, he's one of its grand masters.
The book begins with the tale of a well-known but unnamed writer who is ritualistically going over last month's bank statement, canceled checks, and unpaid bills. While the expenses mount and are suggestive of living above one's means, the writer isn't unnerved as most readers would be. In fact, he is nearly ecstatic. Money spent on flowers (from the florists Clutter & Vine) and caterers (Mauve Gloves and Madmen) for a cocktail party is evidence that he's "made it." He doesn't have to be like his immigrant father who worked as a tailor for years. He needn't do manual labor at all. He's educated and successful and free to write books and articles about the repressive nature of America vis-a-vis the underclass. Needless to say, the irony is completely lost on our renowned author.
Other sketches follow and, while not always directly related thematically, they nonetheless paint a picture of the times. Famously, it is in one of the articles contained in this collection that Mr. Wolfe coined the phrase "The Me Decade" to describe the 1970s. As with any form of journalism, the choice of topics, the way they are presented, etc. reflect the perspective of the journalist and his editors. With Tom Wolfe, his perspective is clear and entertainingly presented. Wolfe's virtuosity with literary mise-en-scene is what differentiates him from his contemporaries. Whether you actually remember the 70's or not, you'll feel as though you do after reading this work.