Wolfe combines his powerful distaste for the decadence he has encountered, with an enormous respect for the animal quest for sexual dominance, which he believes is the transcendental fact of human existence. This is why the book is so strangely incoherent, while being so strangely compelling: Wolfe has found among the young habits he finds genuinely repulsive, but they are attached to an honest, almost Nietzschean, acknowledgment of the inner workings of status. Wolfe may be appalled by booze, crunking, and bling bling, but he has an awed (and entirely sexist and entirely homoerotic) respect for the animal powers of young men.
“Soul” and the American imagination By Virginia Heffernan and Stephen Metcalf. Start on Wednesday and read on through.