Cringe if you're a native New Yorker

The people who love Tom Wolfe are exactly the kind of people he loves to hate in his books.

"ARE YOU actually charging for tickets?" mouthed the blonde, scooping up her complimentary pass to Tom Wolfe's Wednesday night reading from his latest 528-page morality-tale-blockbuster, A Man in Full. The reading was held in midtown Manhattan, at Town Hall. The hopeful woman was vintage Wolfe - circa 1987 The Bonfire of The Vanities - what he might have categorized as a "lemon meringue".

She found company in other Bonfire types. Sprinkled throughout the two-tiered theatre, seated to three-fifths capacity, were Social X-Rays (who appeared to have looked "inward" in the 1990s) and second-rung Sherman McCoys.

Publisher Roger Strauss introduced the diminutive Wolfe as "Our man in full!" The crowd, affluent denizens of Manhattan, intoned a collective "Mmmm" to indicate how meaningful the scribe of social mores has been to them.

Such satisfied sounds and chuckles were just the sort of sanctimony Wolfe would have mocked when he was a scabrous, 1960's New Journalist punching holes in Radical Chic. Now, the 68-year-old writer descended upon the stage and just basked in the overstated appreciation.

"Here in the North East, the most conspicuous consumption is the private jet," he said, rubbing his small, bony hands together. His hands are the colour of his face, abalone and pink. "Then I saw a quail plantation," he said, introducing the pastime of many of his Deep Southern New Rich characters who gallop after quail tail for a season on 30,000-acre farms.

To read from his book, about a crass, racist Southern CEO who takes a fall, Wolfe donned white reading glasses, no, freakishly expensive "eyewear". He was also wearing his customary two-toned shoes and his hand-tailored, cream-coloured, double-breasted serge suit and waistcoat. Indeed, Wolfe's sartorial sense remains the perfect detail for profiles, serving both the writer of this month's Wolfe cover-story in Time (in the weeks before a national election) and the one that followed in the New York Times.

Also in the New York Times this week was an exultantly favourable review by Michael Lewis, bestselling author of Liar's Poker and other titles. Sure enough, Lewis showed up for the reading, sitting in the front row dressed in tweed jacket and khakis, beaming at the writer of a book he declared to be "too fine to dwell on its weaknesses. Too fine, and too long in the making ... How sad to think of the world without some book by Tom Wolfe in the works," Lewis penned. "And how dull!"

Seated beside Lewis was MTV VJ Tabitha Soren. She listened, rapt, to Wolfe's grain-fine details about American banks. This is the sort of painstaking detail that can make Wolfe seem diabolical in his omniscience: A Man in Full lists everything, from the insignia on the rugs and tea cups to the name of the banking industry's favourite florists.

Tabitha was starting to look a bit bored, registering generational impatience by marking the vertical base of Wolfe's stage with the heels of her thigh- high leather boots. Lewis, meanwhile, smiled up at Wolfe as if his finger were touching God's. Perhaps he was thinking, "I am your forebear but I, unlike you, was once actually a financier."

The rest of the crowd simply mbibed Wolfe's storytelling. They particularly liked Wolfe's racial humour, his ribald Southern accent ("U-nited States"; "Disss-graaace") and that his book focuses on the preoccupation he shares with both his audience and Lewis: money.

As his fans poured out of the Town Hall after the reading, they seemed like an index of Wolfe's life reversal. A writer once inseparable from youth could now summon only the most suspect under-thirties - the young of Money: the editorial assistants waiting to marry money, the self-starters making it on Wall Street, and a smattering of libertarian rock critics.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on