The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby

New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1965.

Summary from Publisher:

In his first book–a collection that launched its author as America’s foremost entertainer with something to say–Tom Wolfe took a sharp-eyed look at the American scene of the early 1960s and zeroed in on the exotic forms of status-seeking that flourished across the country from New York to Los Angeles.

He observed the emergence of intriguing art forms and styles of life that had nothing to do with the “elite” culture of the past. In the Low Rent world of the Twist, bouffant hairdos, stock car racing, and rock concerts he found not only a uniquely American energy but also an American aesthetic. In the title piece Wolfe eulogized the flamboyant kustomized kars that California teenagers designed and constructed with a single-minded artistic dedication. And through his eyes we see this new world’s most stupendous manifestation: the back-lit plastic city of Las Vegas–“apart from Versailles the only architecturally uniform city in the Western World.”

Wolfe also sized up the defenses that the old guard rallied against this rising tide of barbarism. Whether in fashion, nightlife, child-rearing, or art-worship, its struggle to find new forms to preserve its status against the proles received ruthless and hilarious scrutiny.

Illustrated by the author’s own “Metropolitan Sketchbook,” The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby was a dazzling debut.

Table of Contents:


Part 1:  The New Culture-Makers

1 Las Vegas (What?) Las Vegas (Can’t Hear You! Too Noisy) Las Vegas!!!!
2 Clean Fun at Riverhead
3 The Fifth Beatle
4 The Peppermint Lounge Revisited
5 The First Tycoon of Teen
6 The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby

Part 2: Heroes and Celebrities

7 The Marvelous Mouth
8 The Last American Hero
9 Loverboy of the Bourgeoisie
10 Purveyor of the Public Life
11 The Girl of the Year

Part 3: A Metropolitan Sketchbook

Old Faces, New Fashions
Teen-age Male Hairdos
The Sun-Worshippers
The Zoo in Central Park
The View in Central Park
New York’s Beautiful People

Part 4: Status Strife and the High Life

12 The Saturday Route
13 The Luther of Columbus Circle
14 The New Art Gallery Society
15 The Secret Vice
16 The Nanny Mafia

Part 5: Love and Hate New York Style

17 Putting Daddy On
18 A Sunday Kind of Love
19 The Woman Who Has Everything
20 The Voices of Village Square
21 Why Doormen Hate Volkswagens
22 The Big League Complex

Online: (excerpt)
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