The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby

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Overview

In this book, his first, Tom Wolfe took a fresh look at the American scene of the early 1960s and zeroed in on the more exotic forms of status-seeking then in vogue from New York to Los Angeles.

In the Twist, bouffant hairdos, stock-car racing and rock concerts Wolfe found a unique American energy. In the title piece he eulogizes the flamboyant kustomized kars California teens constructed with artistic dedication.

"New forces excited the old guard, and Wolfe takes special ...

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Ny, Ny 1980 Mass-market paperback Good. No dust jacket as issued. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. Audience: General/trade. 1960's; American; Fiction; General; Literary ... Collections; Popular Culture; Reader's Catalog; Social Science; Social status; United States Read more Show Less

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The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby

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Overview

In this book, his first, Tom Wolfe took a fresh look at the American scene of the early 1960s and zeroed in on the more exotic forms of status-seeking then in vogue from New York to Los Angeles.

In the Twist, bouffant hairdos, stock-car racing and rock concerts Wolfe found a unique American energy. In the title piece he eulogizes the flamboyant kustomized kars California teens constructed with artistic dedication.

"New forces excited the old guard, and Wolfe takes special pleasure in stories of these encounters. Whether in fashion, nightlife, child rearing or art worship, the old guard fought to preserve its status." B-O-T Editorial Review Board

"This is a book that will be a sheer pleasure to reread years from now, when it will bring back a whole world that is currently jetting its way to somewhere" --Newsweek.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Might well be required reading in courses with names like American studies."—Time Magazine

 

"I'm always rereading Tom Wolfe's The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby."—David Gates

 

"Tom Wolfe is a terrific writer."—The Washington Monthly

 

"Wolfe can do things with words and settings that few writers are capable of matching."—Tom Walker, The Denver Post

 

"The man's done the impossible. He—Yes!—understands America!"—Houston Chronicle

"His eye and ear for detailed observation are incomparable; and observation is to the satirist what bullets are to a gun."—The Boston Sunday Globe

 

 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671811235
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/1985
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback

Meet the Author

Tom Wolfe

TOM WOLFE is the author of a dozen books, among them such contemporary classics as The Bonfire of the Vanities, The Right Stuff, and I Am Charlotte Simmons. He lives in New York City.

Biography

Tom Wolfe was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. He was educated at Washington and Lee (B.A., 1951) and Yale (Ph.D., American Studies, 1957) Universities. In December 1956, he took a job as a reporter on the Springfield (Massachusetts) Union. This was the beginning of a ten-year newspaper career, most of it as a general assignment reporter. For six months in 1960 he served as The Washington Post's Latin American correspondent and won the Washington Newspaper Guild's foreign news prize for his coverage of Cuba.

In 1962 he became a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune and, in addition, one of the two staff writers (Jimmy Breslin was the other) of New York magazine, which began as the Herald Tribune's Sunday supplement. While still a daily reporter for the Herald Tribune, he completed his first book, a collection of articles about the flamboyant Sixties written for New York and Esquire and published in 1965 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux as The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. The book became a bestseller and established Wolfe as a leading figure in the literary experiments in nonfiction that became known as the New Journalism.

In 1968 he published two bestsellers on the same day: The Pump House Gang, made up of more articles about life in the Sixties, and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, a nonfiction story of the hippie era. In 1970 he published Radical Chick & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, a highly controversial book about racial friction in the United States. The first section was a detailed account of a party Leonard Bernstein gave for the Black Panthers in his Park Avenue duplex, and the second portrayed the inner workings of the government's poverty program.

Even more controversial was Wolfe's 1975 book on the American art world, The Painted Word. The art world reacted furiously, partly because Wolfe kept referring to it as the "art village," depicting it as a network of no more than three thousand people, of whom about three hundred lived outside the New York metropolitan area. In 1976 he published another collection, Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine, which included his well-known essay "The Me Decade and the Third Great Awakening."

In 1979 Wolfe completed a book he had been at work on for more than six years, an account of the rocket airplane experiments of the post-World War II era and the early space program focusing upon the psychology of the rocket pilots and the astronauts and the competition between them. The Right Stuff became a bestseller and won the American Book Award for nonfiction, the National Institute of Arts and Letters Harold Vursell Award for prose style, and the Columbia Journalism Award.

"The right stuff," "radical chic," and "the Me Decade" (sometimes altered to "the Me Generation") all became popular phrases, but Wolfe seems proudest of "good ol' boy," which he had introduced to the written language in a 1964 article in Esquire about Junior Johnson, the North Carolina stock car-racing driver, which was called "The Last American Hero."

Wolfe had been illustrating his own work in newspapers and magazines since the 1950s, and in 1977 began doing a monthly illustrated feature for Harper's magazine called "In Our Time". The book, In Our Time, published in 1980, featured these drawings and many others. In 1981 he wrote a companion to The Painted Word entitled From Bauhaus to Our House, about the world of American architecture.

In 1984 and 1985 Wolfe wrote his first novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, in serial form against a deadline of every two weeks for Rolling Stone magazine. It came out in book form in 1987. A story of the money-feverish 1980s in New York, The Bonfire of the Vanities was number one of the New York Times bestseller list for two months and remained on the list for more than a year, selling over 800,000 copies in hardcover. It also became the number-one bestselling paperback, with sales above two million.

In 1989 Wolfe outraged the literacy community with an essay in Harper's magazine called "Stalking the Billion-footed Beast." In it he argued that the only hope for the future of the American novel was a Zola-esque naturalism in which the novelist becomes the reporter -- as he had done in writing The Bonfire of the Vanities, which was recognized as the essential novel of America in the 1980s.

In 1996, Wolfe wrote the novella Ambush at Fort Bragg as a two-part series for Rolling Stone. In 1997 it was published as a book in France and Spain and as an audiotape in the United States. An account of a network television magazine show's attempt to trap three soldiers at Fort Bragg into confessing to the murder of one of their comrades, it grew out of what had been intended as one theme in a novel Wolfe was working on at that time. The novel, A Man in Full, was published in November of 1998. The book's protagonists are a sixty-year old Atlanta real estate developer whose empire has begun a grim slide toward bankruptcy and a twenty-three-year-old manual laborer who works in the freezer unit of a wholesale food warehouse in Alameda County, California, owned by the developer. Before the story ends, both have had to face the question of what is it that makes a man "a man in full" now, at the beginning of a new century and a new millennium.

A Man in Full headed the New York Times bestseller list for ten weeks and has sold nearly 1.4 million copies in hardcover. The book's tremendous commercial success, its enthusiastic welcome by reviewers, and Wolfe's appearance on the cover of Time magazine in his trademark white suit plus a white homburg and white kid gloves -- along with his claim that his sort of detailed realism was the future of the American novel, if it was going to have one -- provoked a furious reaction among other American novelists, notably John Updike, Norman Mailer, and John Irving.

Wolfe's latest novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, explores the unique antics of college life. He lives in New York City with his wife, Sheila; his daughter, Alexandra; and his son, Tommy.

Author biography courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Thomas Kennerly Wolfe Jr. (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 2, 1931
    2. Place of Birth:
      Richmond, Virginia
    1. Education:
      B.A. (cum laude), Washington and Lee University, 1951; Ph.D. in American Studies, Yale University, 1957
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Las Vegas (What?) Las Vegas (Can't hear you! Too noisy) Las Vegas!!!!

Hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, HERNia; hernia, HERNia, hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, HERNia, HERNia, HERNia; hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, eight is the point, the point is eight; hernia, hernia, HERNia; hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, all right, hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, hard eight, hernia, hernia, hernia, HERNia, hernia, hernia, hernia, HERNia, hernia, hernia, hernia, HERNia, hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia

"What is all this hernia hernia stuff?"

This was Raymond talking to the wavy-haired fellow with the stick, the dealer, at the craps table about 3:45 Sunday morning. The stickman had no idea what this big wiseacre was talking about, but he resented the tone. He gave Raymond that patient arch of the eyebrows known as a Red Hook brush-off, which is supposed to convey some such thought as, I am a very tough but cool guy, as you can tell by the way I carry my eyeballs low in the pouches, and if this wasn't such a high-class joint we would take wiseacres like you out back and beat you into jellied madrilene.

At this point, however, Raymond was immune to subtle looks.

The stickman tried to get the game going again, but every time he would start up his singsong, by easing the words out through the nose, which seems to be the style among craps dealers in Las Vegas--"All right, a new shooter . . . eight is the point, the point is eight" and so on--Raymond would start droning along with him in exactly the same tone of voice, "Hernia, hernia, hernia; hernia, HERNia, HERNia, hernia; hernia, hernia, hernia."

Everybody at the craps table was staring in consternation to think that anybody would try to needle a tough, hip, elite soldat like a Las Vegas craps dealer. The gold-lame odalisques of Los Angeles were staring. The Western sports, fifty-eight-year-old men who wear Texas string ties, were staring. The old babes at the slot machines, holding Dixie Cups full of nickles, were staring at the craps tables, but cranking away the whole time.

Raymond, who is thirty-four years old and works as an engineer in Phoenix, is big but not terrifying. He has the sort of thatchwork hair that grows so low all along the forehead there is no logical place to part it, but he tries anyway. He has a huge, prognathous jaw, but it is as smooth, soft and round as a melon, so that Raymond's total effect is that of an Episcopal divinity student.

The guards were wonderful. They were dressed in cowboy uniforms like Bruce Cabot in Sundown and they wore sheriff's stars.

"Mister, is there something we can do for you?"

"The expression is 'Sir,' " said Raymond. "You said 'Mister.' The expression is 'Sir.' How's your old Cosa Nostra?"

Amazingly, the casino guards were easing Raymond out peaceably, without putting a hand on him. I had never seen the fellow before, but possibly because I had been following his progress for the last five minutes, he turned to me and said, "Hey, do you have a car? This wild stuff is starting again."

The gist of it was that he had left his car somewhere and he wanted to ride up the Strip to the Stardust, one of the big hotel-casinos. I am describing this big goof Raymond not because he is a typical Las Vegas tourist, although he has some typical symptoms, but because he is a good example of the marvelous impact Las Vegas has on the senses. Raymond's senses were at a high pitch of excitation, the only trouble being that he was going off his nut. He had been up since Thursday afternoon, and it was now about 3:45 a.m. Sunday. He had an envelope full of pep pills--amphetamine--in his left coat pocket and an envelope full of Equanils--meprobamate--in his right pocket, or were the Equanils in the left and the pep pills in the right? He could tell by looking, but he wasn't going to look anymore. He didn't care to see how many were left.

He had been rolling up and down the incredible electric-sign gauntlet of Las Vegas' Strip, U.S. Route 91, where the neon and the par lamps--bubbling, spiraling, rocketing, and exploding in sunbursts ten stories high out in the middle of the desert--celebrate one-story casinos. He had been gambling and drinking and eating now and again at the buffet tables the casinos keep heaped with food day and night, but mostly hopping himself up with good old amphetamine, cooling himself down with meprobamate, then hooking down more alcohol, until now, after sixty hours, he was slipping into the symptoms of toxic schizophrenia.

He was also enjoying what the prophets of hallucinogen call "consciousness expansion." The man was psychedelic. He was beginning to isolate the components of Las Vegas' unique bombardment of the senses. He was quite right about this hernia hernia stuff. Every casino in Las Vegas is, among the other things, a room full of craps tables with dealers who keep up a running singsong that sounds as though they are saying "hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia, hernia" and so on. There they are day and night, easing a running commentary through their nostrils. What they have to say contains next to no useful instruction. Its underlying message is, We are the initiates, riding the crest of chance. That the accumulated sound comes out "hernia" is merely an unfortunate phonetic coincidence. Actually, it is part of something rare and rather grand: a combination of baroque stimuli that brings to mind the bronze gongs, no larger than a blue plate, that Louis XIV, his ruff collars larded with the lint of the foul Old City of Byzantium, personally hunted out in the bazaars of Asia Minor to provide exotic acoustics for his new palace outside Paris.

The sounds of the craps dealer will be in, let's say, the middle register. In the lower register will be the sound of the old babes at the slot machines. Men play the slots too, of course, but one of the indelible images of Las Vegas is that of the old babes at the row upon row of slot machines. There they are at six o'clock Sunday morning no less than at three o'clock Tuesday afternoon. Some of them pack their old hummocky shanks into Capri pants, but many of them just put on the old print dress, the same one day after day, and the old hob-heeled shoes, looking like they might be going out to buy eggs in Tupelo, Mississippi. They have a Dixie Cup full of nickles or dimes in the left hand and an Iron Boy work glove on the right hand to keep the calluses from getting sore. Every time they pull the handle, the machine makes a sound much like the sound a cash register makes before the bell rings, then the slot pictures start clattering up from left to right, the oranges, lemons, plums, cherries, bells, bars, buckaroos--the figure of a cowboy riding a bucking bronco. The whole sound keeps churning up over and over again in eccentric series all over the place, like one of those random-sound radio symphonies by John Cage. You can hear it at any hour of the day or night all over Las Vegas. You can walk down Fremont Street at dawn and hear it without even walking in a door, that and the spins of the wheels of fortune, a boring and not very popular sort of simplified roulette, as the tabs flap to a stop. As an overtone, or at times simply as a loud sound, comes the babble of the casino crowds, with an occasional shriek from the craps tables, or, anywhere from 4 p.m. to 6 a.m., the sound of brass instruments or electrified string instruments from the cocktail-lounge shows.

The crowd and band sounds are not very extraordinary, of course. But Las Vegas' Muzak is. Muzak pervades Las Vagas from the time you walk into the airport upon landing to the last time you leave the casinos. It is piped out to the swimming pool. It is in the drugstores. It is as if there were a communal fear that someone, somewhere in Las Vegas, was going to be left with a totally vacant minute on his hands.

Las Vegas has succeeded in wiring an entire city with this electronic stimulation, day and night, out in the middle of the desert. In the automobile I rented, the radio could not be turned off, no matter which dial you went after. I drove for days in a happy burble of Action Checkpoint News, "Monkey No. 9," "Donna, Donna, the Prima Donna," and picking-and-singing jingles for the Frontier Bank and the Fremont Hotel.

One can see the magnitude of the achievement. Las Vegas takes what in other American towns is but a quixotic inflammation of the senses for some poor salary mule in the brief interval between the flagstone rambler and the automatic elevator downtown and magnifies it, foliates it, embellishes it into an institution

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 27, 2011

    Great Writing But Some Dated Material

    Wolfe is one of the best social commentators in the US. He is funny, satirical and insightful. These articles from the late 1950s and early 1960s are at their best when they capture subcultures: custom car builders and stock car racers. Less interesting are the articles about celebrities or wealthy individuals who have passed into obscurity.

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    Posted September 22, 2009

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    Posted December 25, 2009

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