Raise the Glass: Tom Wolfe


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Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Topic Author's Original Post - May 15, 2018 - 03:07pm PT
In his 80s, he passed away Monday. Bonfire of the Vanities. The Right Stuff. Great American writer, I loved his work.

Raise up the glass, the good king gone.



Bad Acronym

Little Death Hollow
May 15, 2018 - 03:40pm PT
I loved his early essays - paved the way for the likes of HST, Ed Abbey et. al.

Most memorable phrase (off the top of my head): "moistened folds and stiffened giblets."

Social climber
Wise Acres
May 15, 2018 - 03:50pm PT
Tom had the write stuff, RIP!

“After all, the right stuff was not bravery in the simple sense of being willing to risk your life (by riding on top of a Redstone or Atlas rocket). Any fool could do that (and many fools would no doubt volunteer, given the opportunity), just as any fool could throw his life away in the process. No, the idea (as all pilots understood) was that a man should have the ability to go up in a hurtling piece of machinery and put his hide on the line and have the moxie, the reflexes, the experience, the coolness, to pull it back at the last yawning moment—but how in the name of God could you either hang it out or haul it back if you were a lab animal sealed in a pod? Every”
― Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff

“In time, the Navy would compile statistics showing that for a career Navy pilot, i.e., one who intended to keep flying for twenty years... there was a 23 percent probability that he would die in an aircraft accident. This did not even include combat deaths, since the military did not classify death in combat as accidental.”
― Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff


Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
May 15, 2018 - 04:05pm PT
This one opened the eyes of this teenager.
This one opened the eyes of this teenager.
Credit: ydpl8s
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
May 15, 2018 - 04:24pm PT
RIP to one of the great ones.

The second chapter of The Right Stuff ("The Right Stuff") is one of my favorite pieces of modern American writing.

I also found his description of the "burned beyond recognition" plane crash pretty memorable.

The Acid Test. Also marvelous.

Although I feel like both books would be stronger cultural testimony with endnotes.

Without them? Well, maybe . . .


Balcarce, Argentina
May 15, 2018 - 04:37pm PT
Hear, hear!

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
May 15, 2018 - 04:39pm PT

Did you ever see his public slander fest with John Irving?

Gross Vegas
May 15, 2018 - 04:40pm PT
Indeed Greg.
The Right Stuff is my favorite by far.
Thanks Dad for turning me on to this book as a 10 year old.
another nickname

Social climber
Yazoo Ms
May 15, 2018 - 04:43pm PT
I must dissent. In my view he was just an extremely good "hack" writer.

If it's "new journalism " you want then from a literary point of view, much better would be Joan Didion John McPhee and others.

The guy epitomized and to some extent influenced the "slicking up " of journalism, which is now a ubiquitous and expected convention practiced with varying degrees of adroitness by all of today's hacks, and which has only served to obscure the small bit of "reality " that journalism is aimed at.

Also, his book on architecture is apparently trash.


Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
May 15, 2018 - 04:45pm PT
Uh Oh! We got an intellectual 1%'er
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Topic Author's Reply - May 15, 2018 - 04:52pm PT
It was his fiction I enjoyed. His journalism never really spoke to me and much of it predated my interest in him.

Right Stuff.

Bonfire of the Vanities.

A Man in Full.

There is imagery with words he paints for us all to read. In "A Man in Full" he writes of the protagonist, a poor guy hacking out a living in a walk-in freezer warehouse in Northern California. The guy lives in Pittsburgh or Antioch, can't remember which. Wolfe describes the squat, cheap-assed suburban homes that line the Hwy 4 corridor with such accuracy I literally marveled at the words, at how a writer living in Manhattan could witness the reality of life on the other side of the continent.

A place where, paraphrasing Wolfe, most folks use their automatic garage door opener as the front door of their house. Hah, I laughed out loud at the description for I too have lived in such housing and enjoyed for a time the garage door as my preferred method of ingress / egress :D

And through a series of misfortunes, that hapless bloke ends up in the county jail down in the Livermore Valley, a jail then easily visible from the 580, till the sprawl of Blackhawk overtook it (laughingly).

I also for a time lived in rural Georiga and his description of the people and the places really resonated with me.

Now frankly it also helped me understand more fully the value of research and research assistants, haha. But still, boots on the ground stuff, all tellingly described in such a way as to resonate with this reader.

I love his turns of phrase and his ability to describe scenes; absolutely loved it!


Trad climber
May 15, 2018 - 05:02pm PT
Thanks Dingus. Always enjoy your prose.
Timid TopRope

Social climber
the land of Pale Ale
May 15, 2018 - 05:16pm PT
For Sale: 75 white suits with matching belts, hats and shoes; good condition. Best offer.
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
May 15, 2018 - 05:19pm PT
I liked most of his writing, with The Right Stuff as a favorite... but never liked that weak Truman Capote ripoff hat he often wore. That whole look I could do without. Cheers to Tom...

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
May 15, 2018 - 06:39pm PT
Credit: guido

The Hot Kiss On the End of a Wet Fist
May 15, 2018 - 06:55pm PT
I read the "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" on my first trip ever to California from Wisconsin 6 days after graduating from high school in 1980. The friend that I drove with dropped me off in L.A. and drove back to Wisconsin. I hitchhiked from L.A. to Pleasent Hill, Oregon to meet, and live for a brief time, at the home of Ken Kesey. I owe a lot of my desire to do that adventure to Wolfe's book. R.I.P.

Sport climber
Sands Motel , Las Vegas
May 15, 2018 - 06:58pm PT
Nice guido...

Ice climber
May 15, 2018 - 07:16pm PT

Wrote the Pump House about La Jolla

Surfers anointed him a "dork"

I liked the Bonfires and Zkool Aid & Stuff

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 15, 2018 - 10:00pm PT
Thanks for the entertainment Tom. I enjoyed it all...small beige bricks and everything.

May 16, 2018 - 06:52am PT
Hernia hernia hernia hernia hernia hernia
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