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am 20. Juli 2000
An ambitious undertaking, Tom Wolfe's novel starts by introducing several, very distinct characters, and expertly weaving their stories together. The complex storyline keeps you guessing, blending suspense and humor. Wolfe has populated a world with memorable characters (Cap'm Charlie Croker & his trophy wife, Serena, Conrad, Roger Too White, Ray Peepgass and so many others), that will live on in the reader's memory. Turpmtine Plantation feels like a very real place. Then, with the suddenness of a car wreck, the story lurches to an awkward and disappointing conclusion. It's a crying shame that Wolfe tries to wrap up an over 700-page novel in one chapter using a two-way Q&A conversation. A tremendous let-down...
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am 11. Januar 1999
I have reached literary nirvana with Tom Wolfe's outrageous, hilarious take on the 1990's, "A Man in Full". This is a masterpiece, with dead-on characterizations, no-holds-barred satire and discussion-provoking social commentary.
Just the characters' names alone are priceless - Raymond Peepgas, Roger Too White, and Charlie Croker among them. Everyone is knocked here: the ego-inflated developer, the social climbing lawyer, the trophy wife, the pampered athlete. Sentences are worth reading two and three times to digest their full wonderfulness. No one can turn a phrase like Wolfe.
Okay, the ending seems a little rushed. But events tie together in satisfying fashion, and I for one was sorry to see the novel end, even after 741 pages. It's the Great American Novel of the decade.
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am 20. Juli 2000
What an accomplishment! To write a story that ties together: Charles Croker, a 60 y.o. Atlanta real estate broker who is in danger of losing his billion dollar fortune; Conrad Hensley, an idealistic, laid-off follower of the Stoic, Epicetus; Fareek Fanon, an Afro-American college football star alleged to have raped the daughter of Iman Armholster, a leader of the white community; and Roger Too White an Afro-American lawyer on the rise. Throw in a variety of other uniquely described stereotypical characters and you have the ingedients for a masterpiece. Read with enthusiasm and slow enough to savor the descriptions of people, places, things and situations, this book ranks right up there with the best. The teachings of Epicetus and the feelings of Charlie, who at 60 questions the meaning of his life were particularly relevant and powerful. I will often refer back to this story and read a page or two just to get a chuckle and see the beauty of the English language in the hands of a brilliant wordsmith. Postscript: If you have the opportunity to listen to the audio tape you won't be disappointed. Ralph Ogden Stiers does a brilliant job of capturing the essence of each character.
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am 27. November 1998
It was wonderful, of course, but--Dan sometimes thought that the writer was a little ... _careless_ ... a bit ... _sloppy_ ...
On page 199, he read, "There was only the hexagonal shape to remind you that it was a stop sign." _Hexagonal?_ An anxiety tugged at the edge of his mind. Hexagonal meant... SIX sides... Could--could the writer have made such a gaffe? Such a _humiliating_ gaffe?
On page 359! There it was! Again! The ripped up book becomes a "pathetic stack of folios." Could he have possibly meant to say ... _signatures?_
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am 11. Dezember 1998
I know everyone of these people, every single one, and so do you. How can an author write a chapter like "saddlebags" and not have lived it? How? You tell me. As an entreprenuer i've been there and that chapter rekindled long buried flashbacks that took their time resettling. Wolfe's dialog and vivid descriptions of such diverse and singularly unique lifestyles rings crystal true in every instance. What a book! If you have been in the arena, are alive and living life, this book is for you.
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am 17. Oktober 1999
I don't think I can read a Wolfe novel or story and not enjoy it.
That said, both of his novels end with a deus ex machina. Given that Epictetus leans heavily on this one, maybe we can forgive it. I liked it, but I would have liked it better without the rabbit-out-of-the-hat. Maybe next time....
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am 25. Januar 1999
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel until the last chapter and epilogue. Unfortunately, Tom Wolf got tired of this novel and finished up the story with a wrap-up in the epilogue. I would really have loved to continue the saga and understand what really happened to these people. For instance, what could have posessed Martha to marry Peepgas?
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am 23. Juni 2000
A Man in Full was the first Tom Wolfe novel I've every read, I'm embarassed to admit. He is obviously an extremely important American author. I see him as a sort of an urbane Steinbeck, very American, at least in this book. The book is said to be a Southern piece, but I think it has too wide a scope to fulfill that mission.

It's one of those books that keeps coming back in your memory. So many vivid scenes with outrageous characters. It's a book of ideas. Especially, the notion of two men from different life backgrounds, Charlie Croker the tycoon realestate broker and Conrad Hensley the down and out blue collar man, coming together over an obscure tome of ancient philosophy.

I believe Tom Wolfe expressed some concern in an interview that readers would not find sympathy for Charlie Croker. He needn't have feared that, in my mind. I thought Croker rather heroic, despite his foibles and excesses.

The range of Wolfe is amazing, from Stienbeckian views of the down and out family man to the power brokers of eastern society and business establishment, his charcters are well drawn and poignant.

This is a substatial novel, a book of substance. Definitely a must for your reading list.
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am 21. Januar 2000
Charlie Croker is one pig-headed cracker from the old-South. Charlie raises horses, fearlessly handles snakes, shoots quail, runs his own fleet of jets, is married to a younger, beautiful women, and is in general a good ole boy -- even owns an honest ta gawd plantation where all the helpin' folk are black.
Charlie is also a man in prime need of a humbling experience. Charlie is a real estate developer and his most serious problems develop as a result of a wide-body ego coupled with backward planning -- desire it, act on it, followed by, plan for it, pay for it. Croker becomes overextended on a real estate deal for a development that is largely a monument to himself, even named it The Croker Concourse. This leads to a "workout session" at Planners Bank, where Charlie is given a most unpleasant reception. Wolfe describes the scene in vintage style, casting a rheumy eye on corporate America and its ugly military efficiency and total bottom line orientation. It is at this point where you will realize that you have come to like Charlie Croker, that you are pulling for this humus head from south of the gnat line, that Croker, raw and crude as he is, contains a genuine spirit and optimism that has been bleached out of the rest of us.
Politics and money drive the entire story. Wolfe shows how saturated Americans are with these two Noble Truths. (Even Conrad-the-stoic's actions, the spiritual soul of this 787 page journey, were brought about by the frustrations of not being an economically viable member of society.) A Man in Full is a snort fest, (I read this while bus commuting and couldn't contain my laughter, despite the worried stares) Wolfe's satire is as biting as a side ache, unfortunately, the truth running beneath the humor is a sobering one. This is the kind of book our grand kids will read and when they finish it, they will close the book and exclaim, "My god, were you people ever messed up!"
I especially liked the chapters dealing with Atlanta's black mayor. He is like an inverted Oreo, posing publicly as white for the "money" constituents from the wealthy white neighborhoods, and posing privately as black for the less economically powerful, but more numerous black voters. The tribal art collection ebbs and flows through his office in accordance with the political tide!
Wolfe brings the mayor, Croker and Planners Bank together on an issue that threatens to explode the entire city in racial tension. Fareek Fanon, a black football star is accused of raping a white woman from one of Atlanta's most influential families. If Croker, (a former football great) speaks out on Fareek's behalf, maybe the mayor can help him with all his debts to Planners Bank? And maybe someone high up in Planners Bank will be owed a valuable gift in return for forgiving Crokers debt? And if the mayor quells the coming riots, maybe he will reclaim the straying voters needed for his reelection? Everyone is itching and planning for the scratch. A simple premise, but greed and political chess playing enter the equation, creating a centrifugal force that sucks some characters into the melee and spins others off into ruin.
Ruthless and wicked writing from a man who portrays American society with a magnifying glass held over the warts and moles.
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am 11. Juni 2000
An excellent - almost impossible-to-put-down read that disappoints in the end because it was so captivating right up to the last two chapters. The descriptions of places, situations and characters are so good you can put your hand out and touch them. The motivating emotions and foibles of the humanity along with an easy to digest dose of philosophy are all very acceptable. One early scene, relating to a character called Conrad, came over as painted with a tar brush from the point of view of the predicament he found himself in, but this was totally forgiven by the jail scenes involving this character that were so good that they had me gnashing my teeth in anger. Some situations seemed overtly staged and I often had the thought that some characters would have reacted and developed differently. But I was hooked all the time by the writing's tremendous immediacy and readability. However, having primed his audience so that one could barely wait for certain characters and organizations to get their comeuppance - the end was a big let down both in style and content. Yes, we wanted Charlie and Conrad to win big and we wanted Plannersbanc and all their motley crew to loose out and we did think that Martha and Chatlie might get back together again maybe, and we certainly did not want bright and worldly Martha to be taken in by Peepgass. And as for that summation at the end, neither the major nor Roger Too White came through as believable. But whatever its faults I'd just love to have that big, rich book... virgin and unread and at my disposal again. Thank you Tom Wolfe for a most wonderful, informative, moving and exciting read.
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