Writer recalls Wolfe’s feud with Updike and others

Writing for The Telegraph days after Tom Wolfe died, Jake Kerridge recalls a feud between Wolfe and writers who dared criticize him in public reviews—among them, John Updike.

Kerridge sides with Updike and the others. “There are many reasons to mourn Wolfe, who has died aged 88. I can’t say that the thought that he won’t write any more novels is one of them,” admits Kerridge, who reviewed Wolfe’s last “bloated” novel, Back to Blood.

As for the feud with Updike, Norman Mailer, and John Irving, which Kerridge says was “possibly more entertaining than anything the four of them actually published in the 1990s,”

“It began when Wolfe, who had made his name as a brilliant journalist, wrote an essay condemning modern American novelists for navel-gazing when they should be out researching and reporting on modern America.

“Norman Mailer then denounced Wolfe as a show-off, reserving his strongest contempt for Wolfe’s flamboyant dress sense,” and Wolfe “declared war, dismissing Updike (a year younger than himself) and Mailer as ‘these two old piles of bones.'”

Below is a link to the entire article, photo by The Telegraph staff:

“When writers knew how to fight: Tom Wolfe and the lost art of the literary feud”


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