Author Tom Wolfe died at age 88 on May 14, 2018. This conversation was recorded in October 2017.
On this edition of Two Way Street, we mark the 20th anniversary of the publication of Tom Wolfe’s smash best-seller “A Man in Full,” the long-awaited follow up to his novel “Bonfire of the Vanities.”
“A Man in Full” is the story of the flamboyant Atlanta developer Charlie Crocker as he tries to save his collapsing Georgia real estate empire. Wolfe spent months researching characters and locales in Georgia for the book, including taking trips to the South Georgia quail hunting plantation of real life Atlanta developer Mac Taylor (Mac’s wife Mary Rose was a good friend of Wolfe’s.)
The New Georgia Encyclopedia says that the publication of the book in 1998 was the most important cultural event for Atlanta since the world premiere of Gone with the Wind in 1939.
The book was a sensation here: more than 1,000 people turned out to meet Wolfe at a book signing at Border’s Books in Buckhead. But former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell was so incensed by Wolfe’s depiction of racial divisions in the city that he canceled Wolfe’s scheduled talk at a luncheon of the Buckhead Coalition. Wolfe is now 87, and rarely gives interviews anymore. But over a period of several months producer Olivia Reingold struck up a correspondence with Wolfe himself, and eventually he agreed to appear on Two Way Street.