Tom Wolfe on material



No announcement yet.
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Tom Wolfe on material

    "All of us writers start out thinking 95 percent of this is talent, a gift we have," he says. "I now think it's 65 percent material and 35 percent talent."

    Tom Wolfe -

    You could easily argue that this is the same for screenwriters.

  • #2
    writers v screenwriters

    so you think there's a significant difference? between writers of one form and writers of another form?



    • #3
      Re: writers v screenwriters

      Bear in mind that Wolfe's latest novel, out this week, has so far received almost universally bad reviews. Among professional novelists he's not held in the highest esteem. And he's badly out-of-touch with his times. I would hardly take as gospel anything he has to say about writing fiction.

      Here's what Newsweek had to say:

      Wolfe doesn't seem to know when he's talking down to us. Most readers won't need him to explain that a Stair-Master "allowed you to run ... without taking your feet off a pair of huge pedals." Nor that the word "s--t" can mean possessions, lies, trouble, drugs and verbal abuse. And when Wolfe gets it wrong, the whole edifice seems to totter. The last time I checked the Zeitgeist, Britney Spears was a skank and a laughingstock to anyone over 13. Yet the frat-boy Don Juan's much-repeated, always successful pickup line is to tell a girl that she looks like Britney. You'd suspect this was some ironic/sadistic putdown/come-on, but no: Charlotte's superciliously sophisticated roommate plays Britney CDs with no irony whatsoever. Such tiny details wouldn't matter so much to us if Wolfe didn't stake so much on them. But since his characters are basically laboratory animals observed in complicated though not highly evolved behaviors, "Charlotte Simmons" offers nothing more nourishing than a supersize plot flavored with pungent observation of manners. No novelist gets to be top dog that way.


      • #4
        Re: writers v screenwriters

        What you need is a talent for material.


        • #5
          Re: writers v screenwriters

          What you need is talent.


          • #6
            Re: writers v screenwriters

            That reviewing would have me locked in my room for weeks.... planning an assassination of the reviewer.

            All kidding aside, imagine if our scripts came under that kind of public scrutiny.

            I have no idea where I'm going with this, so I'll stop now.


            • #7

              I don't believe in natural born talent. I only believe in aptitude, hard work, and ambition. What you lack in one, you'll have to make up in another. Nobody shoots out of their mother's womb riddling the keys of a grand piano, or clutching a football tightly against their chest.

              But that just my opinion


              • #8
                Re: Talent?

                I don't believe in natural born talent.
                Mozart may have been close enough to it, though. When he was four he was composing his first symphonies. When I was four I was peeing on the toilet seat.


                • #9

                  imagine if our scripts came under that kind of public scrutiny
                  but, if they're produced, they will.


                  • #10
                    Re: reviews

                    From today's Boston Globe:
                    Even before the arrival in bookstores today of ''I Am Charlotte Simmons," his 676-page novel about college life, numerous critics have blasted away at the book and at Wolfe himself. In an interview yesterday, the author shrugged off those reviews but pointedly noted how often he has locked horns with one establishment or another during his career.

                    ''When you're my age, there's two ways to find out if you're still alive," Wolfe, 74, said with a laugh. ''One is to feel your pulse. The other is to see if you're having a fight with somebody." He added: ''Though I shouldn't say this, it's satisfying to be the center of some kind of storm. It's also a way of magnifying my ideas."

                    Likewise, he says, he takes it in stride when his amped-up, flamboyant writing style is the subject of satire. ''There have been a lot of parodies of my work, and to this day there's never been one I didn't like," said Wolfe. ''I always want to call up the writer and say, 'Wasn't that fun, to do it that way?' "

                    That style is on full display in ''I Am Charlotte Simmons," in which Wolfe takes the reader on a vivid tour of what purports to be contemporary campus life. It is, to put it mildly, not a flattering portrait.

                    Wolfe's fictional Dupont University is a place of nonstop drinking, rampant casual sex, relentless crudity of language and behavior, and precious little attention to the life of the mind.

                    ''I didn't approach the subject with the notion that I was going to write any sort of indictment," Wolfe insisted. ''I had merely become so curious about college life. During the '90s, when I was slaving away at 'A Man in Full,' I had begun to hear stories about coed dorms, about drinking, about political correctness. College had more and more replaced the church as the source of new values, of new ethical outlooks."

                    Some early reviews of Wolfe's effort have been withering and have suggested that the writer known for cutting-edge social analysis is woefully behind the times. Michiko Kakutani, a reviewer for The New York Times, called the novel ''peculiarly dated" and ''flat-footed," and wrote that it is full of ''tiresomely generic if hyperbolic glimpses of student life." In the view of USA Today's Bob Minzesheimer, it is ''overwritten, uninspiring." David Gates opined in Newsweek that Wolfe's title character ''lacks that mysterious core" and that his characters are ''basically laboratory animals observed in complicated though not highly evolved behaviors."

                    What Wolfe has apparently done is to write a revelatory novel, published in 2004, telling us that college students drink and have sex. And he's stunned that he's getting lousy reviews?:eek


                    • #11
                      Re: reviews

                      Mozart may have been close enough to it, though. When he was four he was composing his first symphonies. When I was four I was peeing on the toilet seat.
                      :rollin :rollin


                      • #12
                        Re: reviews

                        A: Hmm, why reprint Tom Wolfe's bad reviews? Does this in some way invalidate his opinion on the talent versus hardwork ratio? I think he's entitled to a bad book or two, and he hasn't had many bad books, no matter what Updike says. And as nice as it is to quote reviews, do you know if you'd agree with that review? I don't think the general public has had a chance to read the thing yet. Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test + The Right Stuff + Bonfire of the Vanities = an opinion about writing that should be listened to.

                        B: When has talent ever meant more than hard work? Mozart was writing symphonies at a young age. Doesn't mean they were any good. And even so, writing symphonies at four wasn't his idea, I promise. Papa Mozart was the motivating factor. And it took many years for Wolfgang to produce music worth caring about. He worked for years, and worked quite hard. Spielberg made movies in his backyard as a kid. Paul McCartney started playing music at 13; it took him ten years before he wrote Yesterday. Young adults who are successful in creative fields usually haven't skipped a step, they've just gotten a head start by beginning their training as a kid. Not to say talent isn't as important, but it doesn't mean @#%$ without hard work. This is something my lazy self is learning the hard way.


                        • #13

                          I like Wolfe. I loved his book on Bauhaus. In his battle with "the Three Stooges" I certainly preferred his point of view. Of course, I think the more interesting book is going to be the one by Michelle S (I that's her, that Sicilian girl with the diary of sex...)


                          • #14
                            Re: reviews

                            1756, Jan. 27: Mozart was Born in Salzburg

                            1761: First composition

                            1762: Family travels to Munich and Vienna

                            1763: Family starts European Tours (lasts for 3 years)

                            1766: Return to Salzburg

                            1767: Performance of Mozart's first operas

                            1776: Composition of Haffner Serenade

                            1778: Maria Anna Mozart (Mozart's mother) dies

                            1781: "Idomeneo" premieres. Leaves Archbishop. Moves to Vienna

                            1782: "The Abduction from the Seralio" premieres. Marries Constanze Weber

                            1786: "The Marriage of Figaro" premieres

                            1787: The Death of Leopold Mozart (Mozart's father), "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" written.

                            1788: "Don Giovanni" premieres

                            1790: "Cosi Fan Tutte" premieres

                            1791: Writes "La Clemenza di Tito", "The Magic Flute" and "The Requiem". Dies on December 5.
                            That's not to mention forty-one symphonies, numerous chamber pieces and piano sonatas, and miscellaneous works (divertimenti, et al). Not too shabby for a hard-working 36-year-old.
                            As for Wolfe, pantalone, if you like him, read him. But even our favorite authors come up with a stinker now and then. This one sounds like Wolfe's. When it comes to reviewers I tend to have the same attitude--and I speak as one who's been reviewed--as I do when editors and/or development execs read my stuff: if the consensus of opinion is that the piece is bad, it probably is.


                            • #15