New Novel to be Acid Test for Booksellers

Doreen Carvajal, New York Times, June 1, 1998.

CHICAGO, May 31 — Hey! It’s Tom Wolfe! Star of true fiction, college anthologies and New York literati.

From the depths of a sleek, black ship of the highway, he enters the McCormack Place convention center in Chicago. He is dressed, of course, in a fabulous whipped cream double-breasted suit, matching two-tone shoes and a silk pocket kerchief of blue houndstooth. And he heads directly to the Grand Ballroom, which is teeming with hundreds and hundreds of independent bookstore conventioneers from places like Longview, Tex., and Blytheville, Ark., who are sipping chardonnay and eagerly waiting for the return of a literary Rip van Winkle who has not published a book in 11 years. Flashbulbs pop. Necks crane.

The author of ”The Bonfire of the Vanities” and ”The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby” takes his place between the ficus trees and pink azaleas — center stage in a new publishing world that was once invisible and is now as vivid as Rake-a-cheek dayglow paint. The corporate owners of the top trade publishing houses are merging and shifting like kaleidoscope diamonds. Books are sold along with detergent and paper towels at Sam’s Clubs and Wal-Mart Stores. The territory of independent bookstores continues to erode…

New York Times