Thursday, June 6, 2013

Thursday Review: A Man in Full

This was about the third literary fiction novel I'd read that wasn't required for school or anything like that.

A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe
May 13, 2002
(4/5 stars)

I suspect that Tom Wolfe is one of those writers who you either love his work, or you hate it. This being my first foray into his books, I loved "A Man in Full". My motivations for picking up this book were not pure: I'd read an article about the apparent feud between Wolfe and John Irving and decided to read both. Being that the book was 787 pages, I figured I would settle in for a long, dull book, but "A Man in Full" was fast-paced, funny, and a pleasure to read.

This was one of those rare books where I went to bed reading, and woke up wanting to read more. Wolfe's writing style is unique (some might say just outright BAD), but I found it very easy to read. Moreover, I was really interested in finding out what would happen to the central characters, and how the seemingly separate story lines would all come together.

As much as I loved this book there are a couple of things that keep it from being a 5-star read. First, the plot of escaped convict-turned-messenger of Zeus Conrad Hensley is a bit out there. Second, Wolfe has this annoying way of translating his character's dialogue, especially Charlie Croker's Southern drawl. Come on, most of have read Huck Finn or seen "Gone with the Wind", we know how the stereotypical Southerner talks. And Conrad's cellmate, Five-O, talks like Jar Jar Binks (I was thankful Wolf translated HIS lines).

Other than that, I greatly enjoyed "A Man in Full" and would recommend it for those looking for a book that will make you think and laugh.


  1. Sound recommendation Pat. I guess you are not what's wrong with the world.

  2. I read this, and I liked it. But if you want a great Wolfe book, read "The Bonfire of the Vanities." That is one of my favorite books, ever. It's far, far better than the movie version, which I gave up on watching. The intricate storylines, the air of desperation, the interesting characters, and above all, Sherman McCoy's descent (?) from privileged bond trader to (almost )street-fightin' man is amazing.

    I did like this book, though -- I'd forgotten about the Zeus storyline.



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