Hooking Up by Tom Wolfe
Hooking Up was written in the year 2000 and offers a group of abstract essays and one Novella – all bearing the common theme of how the United States changed in the second half of the 20th century. It touches on the cultural norms of education, the media, business, theology, and relationships.
One scathing essay is about The New Yorker magazine and William Shawn, it’s editor for over 30 years. The story is witty, entertaining, and informative.
The novella Ambush at Fort Bragg is a story about the murder of a gay soldier in the mens-room of a topless bar. The point of interest is how the media handled the coverage. But the most memorable detail is the vivid and articulate character development.
Some of the material in the book is a bit dated, but the essay In the Land of Rococo Marxists is not only current… it’s even more relevant today. This little essay in itself makes the entire book a worthwhile purchase. It involves Tom Wolfe’s theory about why our great country is so absorbed in a new conformity of mediocrity which is leading to declining educational standards, economic deterioration, and almost non-existent morals… all under the watchful eye of self appointed “elitists” who espouse political correctness and equal opportunity. Call it post-modernism or deconstruction – whichever label you prefer.
In the same way the mass media has culturally conditioned us to think being sexy equates staying young – and staying young should be everyone’s ultimate goal – the “self appointed intellectuals” are trying to brainwash us into thinking that “politically incorrectness” equates with being uneducated. In their eyes all “educated” people strive to be politically correct… regardless if that means forgoing truth, justice, personal integrity and/or high moral standards. And the category of issues considered “politically incorrect” keeps growing and widening to cover an unending list to the point where voicing a rational opinion on just about anything and everything has become risky.
However, in an attempt to stay aloof and superior, these so called elitist intellectuals have unwittingly become part of the mediocre masses. Meanwhile, a select few of the real intellectuals refuse to buckle under and conform – politically correct or not.
Looking at it from a totally objective point of view, it takes on all the eerie distortion of a Kafka novel, like some kind of grotesque joke. Wolfe is a genius! He could have written an entire book on this subject.
One other point of interest about Hooking Up – Tom Wolfe has a way of inadvertently sparking an interest in reading other authors works of fiction and philosophy. His references to Nietzsche regarding the social climate of our society today are intriguing and provocative.
Rated 4 Stars.
All contents © 2014 Lois Weisberg. All rights reserved.