I have always loved Tom Wolfe’s writing. Years ago, I read The Bonfire of the Vanitiesand loved it. Then I read A Man in Fulland loved that more. I also read his more recent, I Am Charlotte Simmons,and liked it very much as well. All of Wolfe’s novels are well researched and give you the feeling that you are immersed in the subject.

Hooking Upis no different in terms of quality or immersion. It is different, however, in that it is a collection of essays and stories and not a novel. Before you allow the title to mislead you, the book has almost nothing to do with the current slang definition for “Hooking Up.”

If you are looking for an erotic thriller, you better look elsewhere. The first essay in the book describes America at the turn of the second millennium. It is this essay that has some relevance to the title of the book itself. It describes the changing sexual mores and the barrage of sexual suggestiveness that children and society have to endure in the year 2000. Although somewhat interesting, the essays that I most enjoyed are the ones called, “Two Young Men Who Went West” and “In the Land of Rococo Marxists.” The first of these is about the founding of Silicon Valley by Bob Noyce and William Shockley and the second one is about the indoctrination that takes place in universities by young teachers who feel it is their duty to enforce a new law of political correctness. I consider the research and writing style of these two pieces to be worthy of some prize. They are exceptional.

Although I enjoyed most of the essays in the book, I must say that I was particularly amused by the way Wolfe captures the motivations and dialogue of three gay bashing soldiers, a news anchor woman and her producer in the fictional story, “Ambush at Fort Bragg.” This story makes you realize how much is wrong in society today and in particular, how much is wrong with television “ambush” programs.

Another gem is “My Three Stooges.” In this essay, Wolfe takes on John Updike, Norman Mailer and John Irving for attacking his book A Man in Full. I have to say that Wolfe succeeds in tactfully getting “even.” While he is defending the success of his book, he also attacks the type of fiction that has no descriptions of real locations or events. He claims that these three well known writers have succumbed to writing novels that are difficult to relate to and that are completely works of fiction with no research. I tend to agree. I have not liked a John Irving book since The World According to Garp. I think that was his only great work and that he is highly overrated as a writer.

I recommend this collection of essays from Tom Wolfe. I think anyone can find at least three essays in the book that are worth reading. Enjoy.

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