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Structuralism Domesticated

Frank Kermode, 20 August 1981

Working with Structuralism 
by David Lodge.
Routledge, 207 pp., £10.95, June 1981, 0 7100 0658 6
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... trying something new as he is when performing more conventionally on Hardy, Waugh, Ted Hughes and Tom Wolfe. It’s to be hoped, then, that readers won’t be put off this civil and modestly adventurous book by the jokes and sneers of the smart, dismissive reviewers into whose hands anything of this kind is likely to fall. The two I have named in this ...

Your mission is to get the gun

Theo Tait: Raoul Moat, 31 March 2016

You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat] 
by Andrew Hankinson.
Scribe, 204 pp., £12.99, February 2016, 978 1 922247 91 9
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... and Hankinson mentions Gordon Burn in his acknowledgments. The basic strategy of the genre, as Tom Wolfe put it in ‘The New Journalism’, is to recount actual events using the dramatic techniques of the novel: reconstructing the story scene by scene, ‘resorting as little as possible to sheer, historical narrative’; using lots of dialogue and ...

Operation Barbarella

Rick Perlstein: Hanoi Jane, 17 November 2005

Jane Fonda’s War: A Political Biography of an Anti-war Icon 
by Mary Hershberger.
New Press, 228 pp., £13.99, September 2005, 1 56584 988 4
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... bumper stickers, for example, saying ‘Jane Fonda: John Kerry with Tits’. Phyllis Schlafly and Tom Wolfe have both described the memorial wall as a ‘monument to Jane Fonda’. A set of urban legends has sprung up around her visit to Hanoi in the summer of 1972: a prisoner of war, ordered by his captors to describe his ‘lenient and ...

If you don’t swing, don’t ring

Christopher Turner: Playboy Mansions, 21 April 2016

Pornotopia: An Essay on Playboy’s Architecture and Biopolitics 
by Beatriz Preciado.
Zone, 303 pp., £20.95, October 2014, 978 1 935408 48 2
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Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny 
by Holly Madison.
Dey Street, 334 pp., £16.99, July 2015, 978 0 06 237210 9
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... agoraphobic, addicted to Pepsi and Dexedrine, and almost never left his mansion. In 1965 he told Tom Wolfe that he hadn’t been outside for three and a half months and had only left home nine times in the past two years. Why would he? He worked on his eight-foot-wide bed for three or four drug-fuelled days at a time ‘without sleeping or ...


Christopher Hitchens: Andy Warhol at MoMA, 12 October 1989

... United States these days, let alone infamy. Celebrity is all and Warhol saw it coming even before Tom Wolfe did. Ultra Violet, to whom I keep on giving menshes, has asked all who were seduced and profaned by the Sixties to join her in repudiating drugs, sex and parties. She urges Scripture, and tells us of her dreams. (‘Once I broke through to ...


Jay McInerney: The Great American Novelists, 23 April 1987

... revaluation of the borders between journalism and fiction and inspiring, among others, Mailer and Tom Wolfe. It gave a push to the notion that the pale artifices of fiction were irrelevant to the Sixties. The novel was declared dead. In Cold Blood, The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, The Armies of the Night, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – these ...


Julian Loose, 25 June 1992

Crystal Rooms 
by Melvyn Bragg.
Hodder, 342 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 340 56409 1
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... score of Indians, Nazis, pythons, Zulus and midget Japanese aircraft had been shattered by Tom’s index and middle finger’). The narrator of The Nerve announces, ‘My problem is to transfer to you a degree of intensity,’ and this seems a near-universal ambition in Bragg’s writing. Such grandiloquent gusto doesn’t always escape absurdity (from ...

Going Postal

Zachary Leader, 5 October 1995

The Paperboy 
by Pete Dexter.
Viking, 307 pp., £15, May 1995, 0 670 86066 2
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Third and Indiana 
by Steve Lopez.
Viking, 305 pp., £10.99, April 1995, 0 670 86132 4
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... a bar called Elaine’s’. (The novel is set in 1969, so Yardley is to be imagined drinking with Tom Wolfe, or Truman Capote.) Dexter, a successful novelist who still works as a newspaperman and lives in the sticks, on an island in the Puget Sound, clearly detests Yardley, but Ward is no hero either. At times in Dexter’s fiction, a Ward-like manner ...

Big Daddy

Linda Nochlin, 30 October 1997

American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America 
by Robert Hughes.
Harvill, 635 pp., £35, October 1997, 9781860463723
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... demolish the critique of Modernist American architecture concocted by a chauvinist die-hard like Tom Wolfe, his liberalism has its limits. Identity politics plays no role in his understanding of contemporary representation. While he is all for the rights of blacks and gays to free artistic expression he is decidedly less happy with recent feminist ...


Geoffrey Hawthorn, 1 April 1983

A Treatise on Social Theory. Vol. I: The Methodology of Social Theory 
by W.G. Runciman.
Cambridge, 350 pp., £25, March 1983, 0 521 24906 6
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... approvingly reviews Marquez, commends Henry James, discusses some ‘splendid stuff’ from Tom Wolfe and starts a chapter with Angela Carter on rooms by the hour in Japan. If this is social science, it is in style and scope not social science as we have come to know it. As we have come to know it, this science has, in its more principled ...

Bring me my Philips Mental Jacket

Slavoj Žižek: Improve Your Performance!, 22 May 2003

... depends on the ‘levels of various chemicals in our brains’. We are not being told, to quote Tom Wolfe, ‘Sorry, but Your Soul Just Died’: we are in effect being told that we never had a soul in the first place. If the claims of biogenetics hold, then the choice is between clinging to the illusion of dignity and accepting the reality of what we ...


Hal Foster: Reyner Banham, 9 May 2002

Reyner Banham: Historian of the Immediate Future 
by Nigel Whiteley.
MIT, 494 pp., £27.50, January 2002, 0 262 23216 2
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... throw-away, smarty-pants, look-at-me’, which might seem to ally it with the New Journalism of a Tom Wolfe. But Wolfe is a reactionary, and his nasty swipe at modern architecture, From Bauhaus to Our House (1981), must have sickened Banham (who wrote a positive review of The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline ...

The Most Beautiful Icicle

Inigo Thomas: Apollo 11, 15 August 2019

Reaching for the Moon: A Short History of the Space Race 
by Roger D. Launius.
Yale, 256 pp., £20, July 2019, 978 0 300 23046 8
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The Moon: A History for the Future 
by Oliver Morton.
Economist Books, 334 pp., £20, May 2019, 978 1 78816 254 8
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... was nothing his former wife felt she could do to help. As a pilot Armstrong had those attributes Tom Wolfe made famous in his book about the air force test pilots who went on to become the Nasa astronauts. They had ‘the right stuff’: they would always do the most dangerous thing on offer. A day after a failed air force test launch of an Atlas rocket ...

News of the World’s End

Peter Jenkins, 15 May 1980

The Seventies 
by Christopher Booker.
Allen Lane, 349 pp., £7.50, February 1980, 0 7139 1329 0
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The Seventies 
by Norman Shrapnel.
Constable, 267 pp., £7.50, March 1980, 0 09 463280 4
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... They would also notice some strange inclusions: for example, essays on David Frost, Kenneth Clark, Tom Wolfe and Germaine Greer – Sixties figures to a man. Booker’s earlier book, The Neophiliacs, he tells us, was ‘a detailed, analytical account of the astonishing changes which had come over Britain in the Fifties and Sixties’. This time he has ...

Every Young Boy’s Dream

James Meek: Michel Houellebecq, 14 November 2002

by Michel Houellebecq, translated by Frank Wynne.
Heinemann, 362 pp., £12.99, September 2002, 9780434009893
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... gives it in life; 19th-century French novelists dwelled on it in great detail, US novelists like Tom Wolfe still do. But Houellebecq doesn’t follow through, and we never understand why these bursts of financial detail come and go. To provoke the Left? To emphasise the shallowness of Western society? As part of some grand pastiche of airport fiction to ...

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