Summary and book reviews of Hooking Up by Tom Wolfe

Hooking Up

By Tom Wolfe

Hooking Up
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  • Hardcover: Oct 2000,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2001,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

America's maestro reporter/novelist gives America an MRI at the dawn of a new age.

Only yesterday boys and girls spoke of embracing and kissing (necking) as getting to first base. Second base was deep kissing, plus groping and fondling this and that. Third base was oral sex. Home plate was going all the way. That was yesterday. Here in the year 2000 we can forget about necking. Today's girls and boys have never heard of anything that dainty. Today's first base is deep kissing, now known as tonsil hockey, plus groping and fondling this and that. Second base is oral sex. Third base is going all the way. Home plate is learning each other's names.

And how rarely our hooked-up boys and girls learn each other's names! — as Tom Wolfe has discovered from a survey of girls' Filofax diaries, to cite but one of Hooking Up's displays of his famed reporting prowess. Wolfe ranges from coast to coast, chronicling everything from the sexual manners and mores of teenagers ... to fundamental changes in the way human beings now regard themselves, thanks to the hot new fields of genetics and neuroscience ... to the reasons why, at the dawn of a new millennium, no one is celebrating the second American Century.

Printed here in its entirety is Ambush at Fort Bragg, a novella about sting TV which has prefigured with eerie accuracy three cases of scandal and betrayal that have lately exploded in the press, as well as Wolfe's forecasts ("My Three Stooges," "The Invisible Artist") of radical changes about to sweep the arts.

Hooking Up is a chronicle of the here and now, but for dessert it closes with the legendary, never-before-reprinted pieces about The New Yorker and its famously reclusive editor, William Shawn, which early on helped win Wolfe his matchless reputation for reportorial bravura, dead-on insight, and stylistic legerdemain — qualities everywhere evident in this gloriously no-holds-barred, un-put-downable new book.

Hooking Up

What Life Was Like at the Turn
of the Second Millennium:
An American's World


By the year 2000, the term "working class" had fallen into disuse in the United States, and "proletariat" was so obsolete it was known only to a few bitter old Marxist academics with wire hair sprouting out of their ears. The average electrician, air-conditioning mechanic, or burglar-alarm repairman lived a life that would have made the Sun King blink. He spent his vacations in Puerto Vallarta, Barbados, or St. Kitts. Before dinner he would be out on the terrace of some resort hotel with his third wife, wearing his Ricky Martin cane-cutter shirt open down to the sternum, the better to allow his gold chains to twinkle in his chest hairs. The two of them would have just ordered a round of Quibel sparkling water, from the state of West Virginia, because by 2000 the once-favored European sparkling waters Perrier and San Pellegrino seemed so tacky.

European labels no longer held even ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Newsweek - Malcolm Jones

Hooking Up provides a great introduction to Wolfe the nonfiction stylist the peerless portraitist (Robert Noyce, Frederick Hart), the contrarian social critic (In the Land of the Rococo Marxists) and the literary bomb thrower (My Three Stooges).

Library Journal

His fans will love to see him still so full of fight, and readers of A Man in Full will be intrigued by Ambush at Fort Bragg, an included novella about gotcha TV news that was originally part of last year's larger novel.

Publisher's Weekly

Arch, vengeful and incisive as ever, the standard bearer for the chattering classes is back, this time with a collection of nine previously published essays, one new one and a reprinted novella.....

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