A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe
|A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe|
|Genre: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: Larger-than-life businessman Charlie Croker has been enjoying a profitable, golden age where he's been able to expand his empire to gargantuan proportions. But as the new millennium kicks in all things financial for Croker take a very nasty turn indeed.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 752||Date: September 2011|
|External links: Author's website|
I'll hold my hands up right now and say that no, I haven't read Wolfe's much-acclaimed The Bonfire of the Vanities. I've heard a lot about it, over the years, in newspapers etc that I almost feel that I have read it, mind you. So I'm really pleased to have the chance to read this much-awaited novel. At a stonking 700+ pages most of which are packed tight with Wolfe's particular style of prose, It's a veritable feast for readers.
The Independent calls this A Brilliant Book and after reading it, I would wholeheartedly agree. But what, exactly, makes it brilliant? Well. I'll do my best to answer that question.
Sixty year old Charlie Croker has enjoyed a terrific and well-publicised sporting career, way back in the mists of time. When he was a strapping lad in his twenties. He's built like a Clydesdale horse and was used to being fawned over and adored wherever he went. But, what's he doing now? As retirement beckons. Well first off, I think the bold Charlie would give one of his belly laughs at the word 'retirement'. He's still working, going to the office etc. But, as a once successful property developer, he's not presently cutting as many lucrative deals. Let's be honest. He's not doing any deals - period.
We're at the turn of the new millennium and times are tough. In Charlie's case, they are very tough indeed. As a man from Atlanta, he's a local boy who did good for himself. Along the way, in his middle years, he's perhaps done some typical things: for example, he's ditched his first wife and mother of his grown-up children (how dare she grow old and perhaps a little chunky round the middle) and is now hooked up to glamorous wife number two and yes, she is young enough to be his daughter. Does he care what others think? Hell, no - and then some.
Charlie's property acquisitions which are all over Atlanta (he has diversified even although he may not be too sure what that word actually means, he's a sucker for plain English) are causing grief basically. Not for him, but for his bankers, those who have loaned lots of money and would like it back now. Stalemate. Charlie's offices are half-empty, his mansion is bleeding him dry and to make matters worse he's been advised to lay off some of his workforce.
Wolfe brings Charlie alive on the page. He's a walking, talking, breathing individual. There are many, many glorious examples of Charlie-speak, shall we say and it's downright hilarious. I bubbled up with laughter several times, then I lost count. All of the characters in this novel (and there's quite a few) are excellent. And in some way, with all of them, all roads lead back to Charlie. The story itself is complex but not complicated. And it's also very enjoyable indeed.
Wolfe gives us plenty of Charlie's style of living. Rail-roading his way through board meetings, social events etc. He simply refuses to take any prisoners. If you don't like it - well, get to hell. He's stubborn, vain, egotistical, short-tempered ... and I couldn't help liking him. He managed to get under my skin very quickly.
There are far too many delicious examples of Wolfe's razor sharp wit and stylish writing. So I'll simply say that if you enjoy a slice of American fiction, then this book will not disappoint. Otherwise, I'll eat my hat. A big, bold, brash, brilliant book, beautifully-written. Highly recommended.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If this book appeals then you might like to try The Bonfire of the Vanities also by Tom Wolfe
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