Friday, May 09, 2008

Wolfe on the Prowl

Here's a fascinating set of five vidcasts (courtesy of Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson, Stanford University, and National Review Online) entitled "The Word According to Tom Wolfe." They are only about 6 minutes long but each one is yet riveting and thoroughly enjoyable.

Tom Wolfe, of course, is the author of numerous bestselling works of fiction and non-fiction. Among these are The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1965), The Pump House Gang (1968), The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968), Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers (1970), The Right Stuff (1979), The Bonfire of the Vanities (1985), A Man in Full (1998), Hooking Up (2000), and I Am Charlotte Simmons (2004). He is at present working on a novel due in 2009, called Back to Blood.

In the first installment of "The Word According to Tom Wolfe," he discusses with Peter Robinson the written word in its various popular forms and describes the novel as a genre "dying a horrible death." He talks about his latest book still in progress. The second continues with Wolfe talking a bit about his own work (he suggests his novels are perhaps more journalism than literature) and about one crowd of dilettantes he definitely doesn't write for, the “charming aristocracy.”

In chapter three of "The Word According to Tom Wolfe," the writer that many think is America's greatest of the modern era, discusses the power of the word to change history and culture. He looks briefly at Darwin, Marx, Freud, and Edmund Wilson as examples. The fourth interview segment expands on evolution. Wolfe, not a card-carrying Darwinist by any stretch (see this Book Den post) argues the differences between man and animals are most dramatically highlighted by the matter of language.

And, finally, in the fifth and last chapter, Peter Robinson elicits provocative statements from Wolfe about Eisenhower, Reagan, patriotism, and George W.Bush.

Really interesting stuff.