Unstreamlined Strength

[H]is almost religious belief that the novelist’s imagination can never rival reality’s force results in weak fiction and forceful facts. His books suffer from what he defines, in “Back to Blood,” as “information compulsion—the compulsion to impress people with information you have and they would love to have but don’t.”

— James Wood reviewed “Back to Blood,” Tom Wolfe’s Miami-set new novel. The book comes out next week (and I feel like there has been a decidedly muted response to this, considering how rare a new novel from Wolfe is, but maybe that’s just me). Wood spends some of the review dealing with Wolfe’s exhaustingly excitable prose, but he also devotes time to Wolfe’s long-held belief that reporting is essential to writing a good novel. (See here for one of many times Wolfe expressed/defended that belief.)

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