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Wolfe in periodical print and online.

Actor and comedian Ricky Gervais posted a blog about New York City for the New York Times Magazine, which appeared in the city print edition on 2 December 2012. In "The Manhattan Project" Gervais observes, "Thomas Wolfe got it right when he wrote, 'One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.' I immediately loved the attitude" (M2162). Wolfe's observation occurs in chapter 18 of The Web and the Rock.

"The Last Epic Novelist" is Tom Junod's review of Mark Helprin's In Sunlight and in Shadow and Martin Amis's Lionel Asbo for Esquire's October 2012 issue (and available at no charge on the Esquire Web site). After observing that Amis has moved to Brooklyn, Junod writes:
   And speaking of Brooklyn, In Sunlight and in Shadow has the feeling
   and sweep of Thomas Wolfe, he who would walk across the bridge in
   the evening to drink in Manhattan, trilling to passersby that he
   had written 10,000 words that day, by hand while standing using the
   top of his icebox as a desk. Helprin has written another expansive
   novel, as if no one has yet alerted him that the novel is dead.
   Here it is, a poetic and likely enduring rendering of New York
   after the Second World War, a love story that pines for love but
   even more fervently for an industrious and ascendant America that
   is no more and maybe never was. A novel in which people fall in
   love in an instant, a novel that inserts phrases like "paralytic
   beauty" into the dialogue of young men. Helprin spins a world whole
   and entire, and you can smell the air and see the quality of light
   and look at women with powerful eyes so intimately it's
   uncomfortable. If Wolfe had lived to see the war and the country
   that emerged from it, he might have written something just like
   this.

     But Wolfe's Brooklyn doesn't much exist anymore, and though a sort
   of literature thrives there now, it is (to grossly generalize)
   smaller than ever, diffident, clever, and ironic. Solipsistic.


We don't know if Junod considers it diffident, clever, ironic, and solipsistic, but we like the title of one popular New York Web site: Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn. The site's "About" page notes that the "Thomas Wolfe story 'Only the Dead Know Brooklyn' inspired the blog's name." The page also provides a link to Wolfe's story on the site of an online journal, the Southern Cross Review. Other than missing one sentence from paragraph 7, the entire story is there.

In a November 2012 essay in Commentary on Tom Wolfe and his new novel, Back to Blood (Little, Brown, 2012), Andrew Ferguson opens with a lamentation on what he perceives as Thomas Wolfe's disappearance from the "pantheon." He first notes that when Tom Wolfe was a reporter in the 1960s, one of his colleagues was Charles Portis (author of Norwood and True Grit). Ferguson quotes Portis as saying in a recent interview that Tom Wolfe had been "polite enough not to roll his eyes when I asked him if he was related to Thomas Wolfe. It must have been a tiresome question for him." Ferguson then writes:
   Reading this, I thought suddenly: "Thomas Wolfe! Whatever happened
   to him?"

     Though young in spirit, I am old enough to remember when Thomas
   Wolfe seemed secure in the pantheon of 20th-century American
   writers, the equal, nearly, of Faulkner and Fitzgerald and
   Hemingway. He is gone from the pantheon today, and I doubt that Tom
   Wolfe gets asked about his kinship to Thomas Wolfe anymore. The
   obscurity of Thomas is an odd but impressive testament to the
   magnitude of Tom's fame and, more important, the vastness of his
   literary achievement over a career spanning a half-century. (64)


One of the "175 Facts about NYU" (a series of photos and captions) on the New York University Web site, features Robert Disraeli's well-known image of Wolfe and his crate of manuscript. Unlike some print publications--including an awardwinning biography--which display this photo backward, the NYU site has it oriented correctly (Wolfe's salute to his critics is conveyed with his right hand; for more information, see "Why Wolfe Is a 'Crate' American Novelist" by Joseph Bentz in the 2006 TWR, pages 93-102). The caption on the NYU site reads:
   Thomas Wolfe, a periodic instructor in the Department of English at
   New York University from 1924 to 1930, published his first and most
   famous novel, Look Homeward, Angel, in 1929. Wolfe taught an
   English class at the School of Architecture at the time that his
   book was being published. Wolfe liked the name of one of the
   students in the class, Zamschnick, so much that he named a
   character in the book after him.


The character appears in chapter 24 when George Graves and Eugene Gant witness Dr. Fairfax Grinder nearly run him over:
   ... he drove full tilt at the short plump figure of Joe Zamschnick,
   men's furnishings ("Just a Whisper Off The Square").

     Joseph, two yards away from legal safety, hurled himself with a
   wild scream headlong at the curb. He arrived on hand* and knees,
   but under his own power.

     "K-hurses!" said Eugene. "Foiled again."

     'Twas true! Dr. Fairfax Grinder's lean bristled upper lip drew back
   over his strong yellow teeth. He jammed on his brakes, and lifted
   his car round with a complete revolution of his long arms. Then he
   roared away through scattering traffic, in a greasy blue cloud of
   gasoline and burnt rubber.

     Joe Zamschnick frantically wiped his gleaming bald head with a silk
   handkerchief and called loudly on the public to bear witness.

     "What's the matter with him?" said George Graves, disappointed. "He
   usually goes up on the sidewalk after them if he can't get them on
   the street." (336-37)


* In O Lost and early printings of Look Homeward, Angel, this word is hand. In later editions, it was silently changed to hands.
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Title Annotation:Notes; Thomas Wolfe
Publication:Thomas Wolfe Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2012
Words:991
Previous Article:More book mentions.
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