Both a Social Pointillist and a Cultural Partisan

Review of Hooking Up. Michiko Kakutani, New York Times, October 27, 2000.

The reader of the new Tom Wolfe anthology, ”Hooking Up,” comes away with three impressions: that Mr. Wolfe is a keen observer and stylist, using his magnetic eye for social details and high-caloric prose to energize his reportage; that he employs those same gifts in his fiction, but frequently uses them to stack the deck against his heroes; and that he is even less fair-minded in his essays, substituting gross simplifications, dubious assertions and highly selective case studies for reasoned argument. The reporter as showman too often becomes the social critic as con man.

A decidedly eclectic volume, ”Hooking Up” consists of pieces spanning some three and a half decades in Mr. Wolfe’s career, from the notorious Herald Tribune pieces on the New Yorker magazine, written back in 1965, through the short story ”Ambush at Fort Bragg” (1996), which sends up the TV news business, to a new essay on America on the brink of the millennium. Among the pieces are a vivid portrait of Bob Noyce, a founder of Intel and a Silicon Valley pioneer; a self-serving account of Mr. Wolfe’s reaction to the petulant (and self-serving) reviews of ”A Man in Full” written by John Updike and Norman Mailer; two cursory meditations on sociobiology and the theories of Edward O. Wilson; and a high-decibel screed against intellectuals and the American left…

New York Times