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Hooking Up

by Tom Wolfe
Published by Picador, 2001
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-42023-9

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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' Filofax 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 fields 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.


"At heart he is and always will be a terrific reporter. Hooking Up provides a great introduction to Wolfe the nonfiction stylist: the peerless portraitist, the contrarian social critic and the literary bomb thrower. The book's title is a sexual metaphor, but in Wolfe's hands, it means making connections among the culture's disparate corners. And nobody hooks up better than he does." -Malcolm Jones, Newsweek

"The rich retrospective of one of America's finest writers." -Michael Pakenham, Baltimore Sun

"The publication of Hooking Up, Wolfe's first book of short pieces in 20 years, is reason enough for celebration . . . Delicious." -Benjamin Svetkey, Entertainment Weekly

"Turn to the three essays grouped under the title "The Human Beast," and you will be in Wolfe heaven. The first of these is an exuberant history of the birth of Silicon Valley. "Digibabble, Fairy Dust, and the Human Anthill" moves from the semiconductor industry to the Internet and then, by a kind of intuitive leap, to neuroscience and sociobiology. "Sorry, but Your Soul Just Died" delves into brain imaging and the genetic determination of character. Jesuit priest Piere Teilhard de Chardin, closet Catholic Marshall McLuhan, and scientist Edmund O. Wilson are the pivotal figures of these two essays." -Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times

"I LOVE Tom Wolfe . . . Whenever some big bizarro thing happens . . . I want the man in the white suit to do his usual exhausting reporting, turn the labels inside out and the hypocrites upside down . . . and tell me what's what in one of those jittering, dazzling riffs of his." -Maureen Dowd, The New York Times

"His fans will find plenty of evidence that Wolfe remains willing to plunge into 'the raw, raucous, lust-soaked rout that throbs with amped-up octophonic typanum all around [him]' and that-especially in his nonfiction-he can still grab the brass ring." -Publishers Weekly (starred)

"The finest essayist-cum-novelist-cum-reporter of our era, Wolfe combines lively writing and endless energy with an astonishingly astute, ever-curious eye." -Forbes Magazine

"Wolfe-man steps up to bat again, this time with a collection of essays . . . quite demonstrative of his feistiness" -Booklist

"Wolfe takes potentially boring subjects and turns them into a verbose tour de force." -Library Journal

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