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from bauhaus to our house- tom wolfe
by: liquidindian 27 november 04
One of the oddest pieces of advice I've received about going into journalism was this: "become a crank!" Fortunately, before I could go home to live permanently in a dressing gown and take in all the local stray cats, there was further explanation - take an interest in everything, have odd specialist subjects, become obsessive about the things that people normally don't know about. Judging by the subjects he tackles, Tom Wolfe must have received the same advice at some point - or perhaps he's just a natural weirdo. Hallucinogenic culture, sociobiology, television 'stings', the evolving dating habits of American teenager... Nothing has been out of bounds, too exciting, too dull, too obscure for Wolfe. With 'Bauhaus...', it's architecture he's interested in, specifically the question: "How did we end up with such damned ugly buildings in America?"
All you have to do to understand Wolfe's skill is try and explain his main points to a friend, and time how long it is until they start to weep with boredom. We're talking about big, ugly, soulless buildings, and the people that created them - reading this book could have been akin to being slowly crushed by one of those grey slabs of concrete. Wolfe's skill with language keeps you interested, and while it's unlikely for it to be the basis for a new Michael Bay film, there's quite a bit of intrigue too. Recommended if you find yourself with a despairing hollow feeling every time you see a newly constructed office building - at least you'll know who to blame.
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