The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby
by Tom Wolfe
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1965
Reissued by Picador, 2009
» Read an Excerpt
Purchase this book from Amazon
Purchase this book from B&N
In his first book-a collection that launched its author as America's foremost entertainer with something to say-Tom Wolfe took a sharp-eyed look at the American scene of the early 1960s and zeroed in on the exotic forms of status-seeking that flourished across the country from New York to Los Angeles.
He observed the emergence of intriguing art forms and styles of life that had nothing to do with the "elite" culture of the past. In the Low Rent world of the Twist, bouffant hairdos, stock car racing, and rock concerts he found not only a uniquely American energy but also an American aesthetic. In the title piece Wolfe eulogized the flamboyant kustomized kars that California teenagers designed and constructed with a single-minded artistic dedication. And through his eyes we see this new world's most stupendous manifestation: the back-lit plastic city of Las Vegas-"apart from Versailles the only architecturally uniform city in the Western World."
Wolfe also sized up the defenses that the old guard rallied against this rising tide of barbarism. Whether in fashion, nightlife, child-rearing, or art-worship, its struggle to find new forms to preserve its status against the proles received ruthless and hilarious scrutiny.
Illustrated by the author's own "Metropolitan Sketchbook," The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby was a dazzling debut.
"Mr. Wolfe's style is all go and wow and breathy expectancy and he makes his zany mannerisms look easy . . . Mr. Wolfe's work is hypnotic and his readers follow on into a world of bright, shiny, verbal imagery." -Eric Lloyd, The Wall Street Journal
"[Mr. Wolfe] is a remarkable reporter too, who, by his talents and even more by his failings, manages to hold a slightly warped but fascinating mirror up to the contemporary American scene." -The Atlantic
Return to Bookshelf