Tuesday, June 06, 2006

"How Tom Wolfe became dull"

The last two years have not been all that kind to Tom Wolfe. Sure, he sold (literally, many) tons of his latest (2.4 lb.) book. And he had some pretty famous fans.

But he came out on the poor end of this duel. And he wasn't exactly conspicuous in the poll to name "the single best work of American fiction published in the last twenty-five years."

Now Chloƫ Schama says Wolfe has become dull.
When Tom Wolfe delivered the Jefferson Lecture last month people waited outside for nearly an hour in order to get the best seats possible.
But the way he addressed the pressures operating among black people and young people in his lecture was feeble; his barbs were blunt blows compared to his earlier incisiveness. There is, by definition, nothing inventive about a stereotype, and stereotypes were rampant in Wolfe's comments. The famous entertainer has always been somewhat offensive, but now he has grown dull.
Read Schama's entire essay here (free registration required).

Schama may be wrong. Click here to read the lecture for yourself. And click here for a sampling of more positive reactions to the speech.

--Marshal Zeringue