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Mauve Gloves and Madmen, Clutter and Vine [Paperback]

Tom Wolfe


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Book Description

12 Oct 1990
"When are the 1970's going to begin?" ran the joke during the l976 presidential bid. In these stories and essays Wolfe meets the question head-on -- even providing the label "The Me Decade".


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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.

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Review

"Among journalists, Wolfe is a genuine poet; what makes him so good is his ability to get inside, to not merely describe (although he is a superb reporter) but to get under the skin of a phenomenon and transmit its metabolic rhythm".

-- Newsweek


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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars But lets talk about me 29 April 2008
By jjlaw - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Worth buying for the cartoon "Utility Workers on Third Avenue" alone - didn't know Wolfe was such a talented sketch artist.

Wolfe might well be the world's greatest living writer. Evidence? He is the author of three unmatched masterpieces on post-war America: The Right Stuff, Radical Chic and Bonfire of the Vanities. The quality of most of his other writings is also extremely high. Take his overlong, turgid, absolute worst book - Man in Full - and its still better than most. In 20th century American writing there is Fitzgerald and Wolfe, and then the rest.

This is a collection of writings from and about the 1970s - as Wolfe coined it, the Me decade. What is satisfying about reading Wolfe's earlier magazine work here is seeing how some particular ideas of his - on masculinity, on the all-consuming importance of fashion - that later blossomed in his longer works were first proposed, developed and tweaked along the road. What you realise is that Wolfe is a writer that worked on his craft relentlessly, spinning ideas and motifs that would eventually resurface again and again. At heart Wolfe is not really a 'writer' at all, but a philosopher of sorts. Where are we? How did we get here? and Why did we get here? are all the questions he asks - and can answer. Mauve Gloves focuses on the 1970s - why were grown men and women lying face down on a thick carpet in a hotel conference room moaning about their hemorroids? Wolfe thinks he has the answers. He is also scary when he predicts the future here - who was calling in the early 1970s the rise of fundamental Christianity in American politics (and attributing it to LSD)? For Wolfe LSD gave rise to a new righteousness in American youth, fundamentalism (or even neo-conservatism) simply being the middle-aged righteousness without the substance abuse. There is just no one else out there who could think like this. Tom Wolfe - American genius.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Often-Overlooked Collection Of Classic Wolfe Essays 30 July 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When an author's canon includes such masterpieces as "The Bonfire of the Vanities" and "The Right Stuff," it is easy to overlook his lesser-known, albeit no less brilliant, earlier work. "Mauve Gloves and Madmen, Clutter and Vine" includes a handful of Wolfe's classic essays from the mid-1970s, including the title piece (which close Wolfe readers will notice he reprised in a "Bonfire" passage),"The Me Decade," and the hilarious "Street Fighters." Any Wolfe fan looking for something to nibble on while they await the long-overdue "A Man In Full" will thoroughly enjoy this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's All About Me 28 April 2008
By Jeff Richardson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Tom Wolfe can captivate anyone 15 July 2013
By John Desmond - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It doesn't matter what he writes about, Tom Wolfe compels the reader to turn the pages. His style is wonderful, witty, and profound. He might get a bit heavy on product description, but his character sketches are absolutely perfect.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!—And a Pleasant Antidote 16 Mar 2013
By speedgeezer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you get past the surprisingly unmemorable title, you will find a very enjoyable and thought provoking collection of essays on, as used to be said, The American Scene. Along the way, you will laugh at least partway out of the sneaker-sucking sludge that is the Mainstream Media.
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