Thursday, April 14, 2016

From the annals of faulty forecasting

[Dwight] Macdonald went on to attack Wolfe's mannerist style, skewer his penchant for 'elaboration rather than development' and speculate that 'Wolfe will not be read with pleasure, or at all, years from now, and perhaps not even next year.'
March Weingarten, The Gang that Wouldn't Write Straight
That was in the NYRB in 1965

He was wrong. Big time.

Wolfe does not win literary prizes and is despised by many of the biggest names in the literary pantheon. (Check out "My Three Stooges" in Hooking Up). But Wolfe has this going for him: if the mark of greatness is having something to say about "where we are and where we are going", he trumps everybody on the list. Does anyone in Denver look up from her Sunday paper and say "this sounds just like a John Updike novel"? How many people turn on the cable news programs and think "Is Philip Roth scripting this"? Yet from Tawana Brawley to the Duke Lacrosse case, Tom Wolfe scouted the territory before anyone else.

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