Magazine article The Spectator

Where Money Talks and Bullshit Walks

Magazine article The Spectator

Where Money Talks and Bullshit Walks

Article excerpt

Characters in this vast, garrulous novel writhe, thrash around and entangle with each other with the frenzied vigour of eels crowded into a basket. But it is none of these characters that provides the book with its protagonist but a nouveau riche city, host to the 1996 Olympic Games, Atlanta. It is when he is writing of this place of boom and bust, stratified like Hong Kong, so that to move up in it geographically is also to move up in it socially, that Wolfe is at his best. One chapter, for example, consists of little more than a car journey from the black depths of the city to the radiant heights, but nonetheless the effulgence of the writing is such that it is far more gripping than many of the accounts of rancorous conflicts between business rivals, husbands and wives, or employees and employers.

Since some 70 per cent of the population of Atlanta is black, racial tensions are, inevitably, one of the dominant themes, with a black footballer, a hero to his community, being accused by a voluptuous white girl, daughter of one the richest men in the city, of having raped her. …

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