18 May 2010

Look Homeward Angel: Summer Reading

“Loneliness is and always has been the central 

and inevitable experience of every man.”


"In Sleep we lie all naked and alone, 
in Sleep we are united at the heart of night and darkness, 
and we are strange and beautiful asleep; 
for we are dying the darkness and we know no death."

Michael Deas portrait here

from 1930 Vogue on Thomas Wolfe's LOOK HOMEWARD ANGEL:
this appears to be less a book that a torrent of impassioned prose telling everything about the life of a boy growing into young manhood, his family-including a patient, hard-working, avaricious mother, a drunken father, and a yellow brother-his school days, and his first love affair, which ends in heartbreak. All through the book there is a hungry appreciation of the beauty of the world and fierce detestation of its injustice, misery ad squalor. Here is a passionately earnest view of the universe. The writer seems to have flung it casually into the form of a novel.

"A liberal is a conservative who has been arrested."

by 1930 standards at Vogue it wasn't there yet. How time changes things- Faulkner said Wolfe was his generation's best writer. The format Wolfe used would be adopted by Jack Kerouac, poetry, prose, stream of consciousness- A modern novel,  Vogue was not quite ready for Wolfe. 

"We are now in the Me Decade - 
seeing the upward roll of the third great religious wave in American history."

As to the ME DECADE, In this he was off- rather than DECADE, he should have written CENTURY.
But then, He was a Modern Man.
Best read today.

You will not be disappointed.

alternate post title: More good things about North Carolina: Thomas Wolfe

READ this book review from the NYTIMES Paper Cuts Blog here by Steve Coates
the thomas wolfe society here
about TW here at the UNC Collection
the TW web site here


  1. I read this as a young woman full of can't get away too soon from the life of small town. I'll read this again and let his words seep into my pores at will. Love you only in North Carolina views of home.

  2. Home, I was just thinking last night-this was something read by many at a young age, so wrong the timing of that. I have this on my mind for many reasons, one I am heading to Asheville and want to make a pilgrimage to TW's. Did you know O'Henry was a NCian too? Small towns-those that inhabited are the very same that inhabit any metropolis-We for better or worse get to know them because of the closeness. Here, last Friday we lost The Brightest of All of Us, What was Best about Us, a Little town in Grief. I am thinking about Home these days. pgt

  3. You are headed for beautiful country, where I lived for many years and MY favorite son was born. Yes, unfortunately we read these books at an age we can't appreciate them. Time to revisit, indeed.

  4. Having never read this, am very very interested in doing so now! Laughed out loud at the conservative comment! My husband would say something more along the lines of a conservative is a liberal who has grown up!

  5. P-

    THIS IS WONDERFUL...and inspiring.
    I adore adore adore your new header...fabulous.

    I have missed you...been in New York and Utah and points east and west, and on deadlines, one after another. Onward!

    fondest to you, DIANE

  6. linda...
    I have family very near asheville, have thought more than once about joining them permanently at some point. pgt

  7. the Z. I think Wolfe got it right!, I hope you will check into it, the NYTimes link blog should convince you. pgt

  8. Diane, thanks. Have been following you about all your jaunts. Gaye

  9. His mother's boarding house is well-preserved, but you need to commit to a 45 minute tour to see it. The immediate grounds are probably improved beyond what Wolfe knew.

    (Nowadays I find Wolfe unreadable, but I loved LHA when I was fourteen.)

  10. I love to just lift off and ride on the words of Look Homeward, Angel. A true poet.

  11. Ancient, thanks for the heads up about timing. for me I did not have the life experience at 14 to appreciate it-at all. pgt

    Pamela, Not surprised that you see that too. pgt

  12. I loved this book at fourteen (but I was too serious then) and I thank you for putting it forth here to be picked up and revisited.
    I am going to Ashville for the first time ever this summer so I will be sure to pack TW. Thank you!

  13. SI, I think you will love it, always a sense of cool both weatherwise and vibewise. There is quite a Renaissance of sorts going on there today and for a number of years. pgt



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