The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe - review by Jonathan Webb

Jonathan Webb

Too Bad About the Novel

The Right Stuff


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Bam! … Biff! … Pow! – Look out! Here he comes … It’s Tom! Dapper Tom Wolfe in tailored pin-stripes! Black stripes on white, you notice, not the other way round. Ass-backward in fact – that’s Tom, turning the world upside down and inside out and setting it write again!

Crack! There goes Bellow, knocked for a loop! Who’s that sprawling on the ropes? … Could it be? … Yes! Poor old Norman, all puffed out! What a rout! it’s bedlam here! Stars flickering and flashing and fading – Oh! the dying lights! And Tom, Dapper Tom, his wizened young face shining over it all. Dapper Tom with the face of a wise child, leaning on his slender cane, beaming down on all this bedlam, waving his cane over all like a conjurer, splashing ink on the walls – What a tremendous scene! Just look at the dripping walls … The writing …

This is it! The writer with The Right Stuff! Just look at it! What a rush! 400 pages – a quadruple century – and more!! There’s stuff left over!!! The stuff runneth over!!!! Take that Roth! … Zap! … Zonk! … Heads up! There goes Singer, zinged right out of the ring – No contest!


It was too bad about the novel. This dapper Wolfe-man was no unlettered beast. He could see the novel had a few things going for it – but it had lost its way. He laid it all down in The New Journalism. The novel had turned to neo-fabulism. It was

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