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Only yesterday boys and girls spoke of embracing and kissing (necking) as getting to first base. Second base was deep kissing, plus groping and fondling this and that. Third base was oral sex. Home plate was going all the way. That was yesterday. Here in the year 2000 we can forget about necking. Today's girls and boys have never heard of anything that dainty. Today's first base is deep kissing, now known as tonsil hockey, plus groping and fondling this and that. Second base is oral sex. Third base is going all the way. Home plate is learning each other's names. And how rarely our hooked-up boys and girls learn each other's names!

Tom Wolfe ranges from coast to coast, chronicling everything from the sexual manners and mores of teenagers...to fundamental changes in the way human beings now regard themselves, thanks to the hot new fields of genetics and neuroscience...to the reasons why, at the dawn of a new millennium, no one is celebrating the second American Century.

Hooking Up is a chronicle of the here and now.

Rezension: Tom Wolfe's name is now so well known that the cover of his new collection bears just that: Tom Wolfe's name. No title, no picture, just the name, with an elegant design twining through it. Flip the thing on its side and you'll find that its title, Hooking Up, gives little idea of its function. But investigation soon reveals an oleo of reportage, fiction, and acrimonious name-calling. The latter, of course, makes for the best reading. In "My Three Stooges," Wolfe reviles the three big men of American letters--Updike, Mailer, and Irving--who cast aspersions on his second novel. Apparently, "the allergens for jealousy were present. Both Updike and Mailer had books out at the same time as A Man in Full, and theirs had sunk without a bubble. With Irving there was the Dickens factor." Wolfe gets in a lot of figures about what a big hit his book was with the reading public, and a few gentle reminders about other writers who were big hits of their times--little guys like Twain and Tolstoy.

Equally bitter fun are his two famous 1965 satires from the New York Herald Tribune. As always, Wolfe's titles lead you a good way into the actual stories: "Tiny Mummies! The True Story of the Ruler of 43rd Street's Land of the Walking Dead!" and "Lost in the Whichy Thickets: The New Yorker." Wolfe, clotheshorse of note, gets off some of his best cracks at the expense of New Yorker editor William Shawn's fashion sense: "He always seems to have on about twenty layers of clothes, about three button-up sweaters, four vests, a couple of shirts, two ties, it looks that way, a dark shapeless suit over the whole ensemble, and white cotton socks." The rest of the reported pieces are unexceptional, and while the novella Ambush at Fort Bragg makes the most of its setting--a Dateline-like newsmagazine--it lacks the irresistible momentum required to drag most readers into a novella. Still, it's fun to watch the author reprise his lifelong role of unlikely underdog: between his sniping at the literary elite and his mocking of the precious New Yorker set, Tom Wolfe makes like a defender of the common man. --Claire Dederer

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