Christamar Varicella's 

fiction has appeared in Minnetonka Review, 580 Split, Birmingham Arts Journal, The Broken Plate, JMWW, Clockwise Cat, and Pigs in a Poke.  He graduated from Spalding University's MFA in Creative Writing program in 2004.  He lives in Atlanta with his wife and daughter.


Varicella says: "About a year ago, after reading Hunter S. Thompson's Hell's Angels book, I re-read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.  Struck by an apparent contradiction, I wrote Tom Wolfe (since he's alive) asking him to explain himself.  Strangely, he never responded.  I only hope he reads A River & Sound Review!"


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An Open Letter to Tom Wolfe

by Christamar Varicella

Dear Tom,


How are you?  I am fine.  I must say, though, Iím a little miffed you havenít answered my letter of the 25th in which I inquired about apparent inconsistencies between the ďgangbangĒ scene in your book, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and the one in Hunter S. Thompsonís, Hells Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga.  Something tells me (and itís the Hells Angels book) that the rape scene didnít take place at Ken Keseyís ranch in La Honda as you maintained, but at another party in which only the Hellís Angels and not the Merry Pranksters were in attendance.  But thatís OK.  I understand.  You donít want to talk about it.  Who am I to bring up a mistake you made, deliberately or otherwise, some forty years ago?  Forget I mentioned it.


Anyhoo.  Whatís been going on?  Still wearing those white suits? 


Oh, I know what I wanted to ask you.  Do you remember that famous spat you had with John Updike, Norman Mailer, and John Irving?  You know, you made the argument in your famous 1973 essay ďStalking the Billion-Footed BeastĒ that literary or imaginative fiction was dead, and you championed the rise of New Journalism to replace it.  They called you names.  You called them your ďthree stooges.Ē  Whatever happened with that?  Did you guys ever make up? 


To be honest, I never understood what the problem was.  Some of Mailerís best work could be classified as New Journalism and Updikeís fiction was so boring it might as well have been true. Then thereís Irving.  There was a section in one of his books that was set along a real-life street out in California or somewhere, and you famously suggested that he should, rather than suffocating under imagined contrivances, pull over to the side of the road and write about the $20,000 Palomino horses that actually reside at that location.  I always wondered what would have happened if he had taken your advice.  How would he have weaved those horses into a story about transvestite Belgian prostitutes who are also bears? 


By the way, how did that New Journalism thing turn out?  Are people still using literary techniques in nonfiction?  Seriously, I donít know since I only read books that are at least thirty years old.  I just took a gander at the NY Times bestseller lists, both fiction and nonfiction, and I canít really tell by the titles.  Is The Lost Symbol reality driven?  What about Glenn Beckís Arguing with Idiots?  I have to assume that guyís deeply in touch with reality.  What do you think? 


On a related topic, Iím writing a book right now that I think could crack the nonfiction top ten.  Itís called Politics Shmolitics: Why Everyone is Dangerously Wrong but Me.  It really is a devastating criticism of everyone else.  Youíd like it.  


Anyway, I suppose you know by now that Updike and Mailer have been dead for a couple years, but Irving is still alive.  Why donít you two get together and hug it out?  You might even team up to write a book together.  Judging by each of your last few efforts, it couldnít hurt.  Am I right? 


To help speed the healing process along, I went ahead and invented a new genre of writing that takes Irvingís imaginative literary fiction and combines it with your New Journalism.  Itís called Liter-realism.  Catchy, huh?  Iíll even give you a few ideas to get you started.  How about a book in which right wing ideology saves Vatican City from being destroyed by a sect of papal freemasons?  You could call it Arguing With Lost Symbols.  Not your style?  How about this? Letís say you and Irving do decide to write that book about $20,000 Palomino horses, but Irving doesnít want to do any research.  Why, you could simply take what you know about the horses and then let him incorporate some farfetched story that involves Belgian bear prostitutes.  Itís the story weíve all been waiting to read!


There.  Let the healing begin.     



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