Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona on June 30, 1973 · Page 89
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Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona · Page 89

Phoenix, Arizona
Issue Date:
Saturday, June 30, 1973
Page 89
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Page 89 article text (OCR)

Republic Photo bv Lud Kwton Soroptimists* new members Mrs. Richard Cornell, left, was among new niembers welcomed to Sorop- timist Club of Phoenix at its final luncheon of the year recently at the Downtown Arizona Club. Others, from left, are Mmes. William Wakeham, outgoing president; I. W. Brayer, new president;: and John Akers, treasurer. Other new officers are Cynthia Hazeltine, first vice president; Lynn Wurth, second vice president; Evelyn Burris, corrseponding secretary; and Audrey Holm, recording secretary. ';' \ From toeird clothes to Watergate] Tom Wolfe talks of new journalism By FRANK S. SWERTLOW United Press International NEW YORK - Tom Wolfe, the Beau Brummel of "new journalism," sat in the Oak Room of the St. Regis, dressed in vanilla. "Hello," he said in a gracious Virginian accent, muted by years at Yale. Bespeaks slowly and precisely. There is no hi - how - are - ya - buddy, quite a surprise from a writer who uses ! ! ! ! ! !'s and 0-0-0-0-O-H's the way others use periods and commas. His white silk suit and his sandy hair are as custom cut as his books and articles in the more sophisticated national magazines. As he breakfasted, he conversed about subjects ranging from weird clothes to Watergate. And of course, his brand of journalism, a personalized reporting that has sent e y e -s h a d e d, cigar chomping newsmen shrieking through newsrooms in protest. , AND "PERHAPS made the novel as outmoded as the Homeric epic. "There are really two reasons why the novel has faded. One is simply that people who wanted to write stories began to go into film, either in a theater or on television. The one thing hurts the whole business of fiction writing is the fact that the money and the general interest has gone out of it. "But. the other thing, perhaps more important, is that young fiction writers, the serious writers, began to operate from a totally different point of view. Their idols were no longer the realistic writers of the past. Their heroes weren't Hemingway, Fitzgerald o r Faulkner, much less writers of the 19th Century like Dickens. But because they came out of a university atmosphere, the people they began to look at were Beckett, Pinter, Kafka and others, and these were all fable tellers. "And so this atmosphere meant the new fiction should have a mythic quality, which is very strong now, and you have all these young writers who all believe they should write myths because realism has been taken up by film and journalism. It's as if they are trying to write a perfect enough myth, like the Greeks, which can be retold and retold. "It's ruining certain careers," he said. "Now a novelist who I admire most in this country is Philip Roth. He's a. fabulous writer. The guy's terrific. He's the closest thing we have to a Dickens. "But he is now affected by this idea of the myth. So what does he start doing? He starts writing "The Breast" and now "The Great American novel," which are attempts to set up a mythic frame work. "AND HE'S just got to cut it out. It's terrible stuff. Just two terrible books. And you find this everywhere. And there are t a 1 e n t e d people writing stories where the hero has no social background or social context. He's just a hero and people don't speak in any. language that would betray a social background. "For instance nobody would have a Bronx accent or they would never have an Italian accent or anything that would have to do with a social class. The action takes place in some very elemental terrain: The sea, the swamp, the forest. The characters are always being pushed by unnamed dreads. And the reader doesn't know what is happening exactly, except the characters are being propelled by unseen forces and for some reason the author uses some sort of archaic diction. "And 'it amazes me. How could a generation of novelists turn their back on the most incredible scenes in the history of the. country? In the 1930s and 1940s ;the novelists would have plunged into this. But now they are headed off to myth city." But while others have left realism, Tom Wolfe has not. His heroes became stock car drivers, doormen, go-go dancers. Their clothes, their walk, their talk were painted on his typewriter, just as lavishly as the custom cars builders sweated over "the kandy-kolored tangerine- flaked streamline baby," the automobile that inspired the title of his first book. His latest book, "The New Journalism" zeroes in on others in his field. The 42-year-old Wolfe was not always a "new journalist." 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