The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1963) by Tom Wolfe.
A few months ago, Sports Illustrated ran a where-are-they-now interview with NASCAR great Junior Johnson.The article mentioned the Tom Wolfe feature story “The Last American Hero” which showed Johnson's driving roots and how they were seeped in the moonshine of Western North Carolina. In the article, published in the 60s, Wolfe explains the South's love affair with the automobile that began after the war: “...the car symbolized freedom, a slightly wild careening emancipation from the old social order. Stock car racing got started about this time, right after the war, and it was immediately regarded as some kind of manifestation of the animal irresponsibility of the lower orders.”
In the Johnson interview in SI, he said that he did not allow Wolfe to interview him, but he did permit Wolfe to talk to any of his friends about him. The feature story is still a fascinating look into the early days of NASCAR.
Descent of Man: Stories (1974) by T. Coraghessan Boyle
Recently there have been articles and blog postings about coyotes in the Atlanta and Decatur area and it reminded me of the work of T.C. Boyle. Even though Boyle made the coyote a symbol of urban encroachment on natural habitats in The Tortilla Curtain, (1995) what I remember best is his short story, “Heart of a Champion” where the noble television collie, Lassie – “balsamed and perfumed; her full chest tapers a lovely S to her sleek haunces and sculpted legs” runs away with a coyote, “puny, runted, half her size, his coat like a discarded doormat.” Boyle writes the story like it was episode of “Lassie” including the “opening strains of the theme song, one violin at first, swelling in mournful mid-American triumph as the full orchestra comes in.”
I think George Saunders reads like early T.C. Boyle.
Living to Be A Hundred (1994) by Robert Boswell
I am still rescuing books from the final days of Books Again's Going Out of Business sale. (Even if you're not going to read them, you should go there buy a favorite book or two just to keep some modern classics in circulation.) This Boswell book of short stories was no rescue. Ever since I read Boswell's short story, “Glissandro” a heartbreaking story of a fourteen-year-old boy's reconciliation of the sadness and goodness of his father, I wanted to find this early Boswell collection. And there it was – a signed uncorrected proof. Joy.