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by Tom Wolfe
Cunningham often said he was looking for beauty, and he believed that it could be found anywhere. Like the great novelists, he taught us how to see other people, and the world.
Not discussed in this episode: Beaches, the coming zombie apocalypse, the coming mummy apocalypse, the coming Frankenstein apocalypse, the coming Tom Wolfe apocalypse.
It is natural to hope, even if that hope is somewhat against the weight of experience, that artists can light the path ahead.
My quest to find the great tech novel -- something sprawling and social and occurring inside the Teach-Up and outside the restaurant and around the home of the displaced shopowner and the H1B-visa programmer -- is in itself a kind of solutionism. Novels are captured social data. You want a snapshot of nineteenth century French provincial bourgeois life? There’s an app for that: it's called Flaubert. And that's before we consider the novel as an aggregator of human data of the biggest, most nebulous kind. You want a map of the human heart? Whose heart? What century? There's an app for that too.
Miami is a veritable treasure chest of weird. Hell, they eat people’s faces here. They overdose on bugs. They alternately molest and cockblock manatees. Wolfe, who loves realism, should’ve been able to uncover these things and more.
There are few iron facts in the crapshoot of the literary life, but here’s one: In book publishing — no less than in music, war, and sex — timing is everything.
Author Julie Salamon is blessed with that rare talent for not missing the forest for the trees while at the same time being able to see the trees.
The world most people live in has more in common with The Office than, say, Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!. But think of how uncommon it is to read a book about someone’s office job. Then count how often a debut author gets compared to Faulkner.