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The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby

Wolfe, Tom

2,619 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0099479389 / ISBN 13: 9780099479383
Published by Pocket Books, 1975
Used Condition: Very Good Soft cover
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Frank Hofmann
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About this Item

12th pocket book printing. Slight general discoloration by age, the more visible because of white covers. No tears, no chips. Interior spotless. Binding tight and square. Bookseller Inventory # 4630

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline...

Publisher: Pocket Books

Publication Date: 1975

Binding: Soft cover

Book Condition: Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: No Jacket

About this title


In this, his first book and one of the landmarks of the New Journalism, Tom Wolfe managed to look at the American scene of the early 1960s afresh and to zero in on the more exotic forms of status-seeking then in vogue from New York to Los Angeles. In the dances, bouffant hairdos, stock-car racing and rock concerts, Wolfe found a unique American energy, and the incandescent style that produced The Right Stuff and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is already in evidence. In the title essay - Wolfe's first magazine article - he eulogizes the flamboyant 'kustomized kars' California teens constructed with artistic dedication. And there's more - Phil Spector, Cassius Clay, Las Vegas, the Nanny Mafia, Why Doormen hate Volkswagens. Classic Wolfe!


The "streamline baby" in Tom Wolfe's 1965 debut book is a hot rod, but the car's candy colors and wild lines can't match the prose style Wolfe devised to describe them. The title essay--Wolfe's first magazine article--launched the New Journalism, partly because its original title was "There Goes (Varoom! Varoom!) That Kandy-Kolored (Thphhhhhh!) Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (Rahghhh!) Around the Bend (Brummmmmmmmmmmmmmm)..." His voice was more shocking than any subculture he uncovered. Until Wolfe (Ph.D., Yale), nobody struck gold by applying Ph.D.-speak to lowbrow subjects. Kurt Vonnegut famously called this an "excellent book by a genius who will do anything to get attention."

Now that everybody does what Wolfe did, his early essays smack less of genius. But attention must be paid to this pioneering peek into King Pop's tomb. The most startling thing is how soberly sensible most of the prose now appears, except for the title of the first essay, "Las Vegas (What?) Las Vegas (Can't Hear You! Too Noisy) Las Vegas!!!" which anticipates the far superior Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Mostly, these articles seem like straightforward introductions to some of the signal figures of the early '60s: hot-rod designer Big Daddy Roth, surf guitarist Dick Dale, teen recording tycoon Phil Spector, Andy Warhol debutante Baby Jane Holzer, the Cassius Clay-era Muhammad Ali. We even glimpse the Beatles in a profile of the yappy DJ Murray the K in "The Fifth Beatle."

The last half of the book focuses more on New York and its denizens' endless combat for social status. The last piece, "The Big League Complex," is like a 1964 warm-up exercise for The Bonfire of the Vanities. --Tim Appelo

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