Wednesday 14 November 2018

Wolfe: a master at facing the completely obvious

Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

When I heard last week that Tom Wolfe had died, I re-read his introduction to an edition of The Bonfire of the Vanities, which I acquired when it was already a massive bestseller and regarded by most intelligent people as a very good book.

It wouldn't have been the first time that I re-read this introduction, entitled 'Stalking the Billion-Footed Beast' - because apart from its general excellence in explaining why he had written a novel about New York City, the more that I re-read it, the more I found myself agreeing with every line of it, every time.

When I say that I agreed with it, I don't mean that I had already formed these views, and Wolfe was just confirming how right I had been. It's more that he had formed the views, and had formed them so perfectly that the reader simply had to accept them.

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