10 Notorious Literary Spats

The Great Male Novelists vs. Tom Wolfe

John Irving wrote about A Man in Full: “If I were teaching fucking freshman English, I couldn’t read that and not just carve it up.” John Updike reviewed the novel in the New Yorker, writing, “A Man in Full still amounts to entertainment, not literature, even literature in a modest aspirant form.” Norman Mailer wrote about the Southern author: “There is something silly about a man who wears a white suit all the time, especially in New York.” In the New York Review of Books, he began a vicious critique of A Man in Full by first querying, “Is one encountering a major novel or a major best seller?” He continues, “At certain points, reading the work can even be said to resemble the act of making love to a three-hundred-pound woman. Once she gets on top, it’s over. Fall in love, or be asphyxiated.”

Wolfe responded by writing a now famous essay on the trio called “My Three Stooges.”