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Hooking Up

Hooking Up by Tom Wolfe
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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 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 being introduced by name.

And how rarely our hooked-up boys and girls are introduced by name!-as Tom Wolfe has discovered from a survey of girls' File-o-Fax 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 field of genetics and neuroscience. . . to the inner workings of television's magazine-show sting operations.

Printed here in its entirety is "Ambush at Fort Bragg," a novella about sting TV in which Wolfe prefigured with eerie accuracy three cases of scandal and betrayal that would soon explode in the press. A second piece of fiction, "U. R. Here," the story of a New York artist who triumphs precisely because of his total lack of talent, gives us a case history preparing us for Wolfe's forecast ("My Three Stooges," "The Invisible Artist") of radical changes about to sweep the arts in America.

As an espresso after so much full-bodied twenty-first-century fare, we get a trip to Memory Mall. Reprinted here for the first time are Wolfe's two articles about The New Yorker magazine and its editor, William Shawn, which ignited one of the great firestorms of twentieth-century journalism. Wolfe's afterword about it all is in itself a delicious draught of an intoxicating era, the Twistin' Sixties.

In sum, here is Tom Wolfe at the height of his powers as reporter, novelist, sociologist, memoirist, and-to paraphrase what Balzac called himself-the very secretary of American society in the 21st century.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux; April 2010
293 pages; ISBN 9781429979023
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Title: Hooking Up
Author: Tom Wolfe
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