Philip's Reviews > Youngblood Hawke

Youngblood Hawke by Herman Wouk
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Dec 14, 2011

really liked it
Read from December 14, 2011 to July 03, 2015

June/July 2015: My 2012 attempt at re-reading this book stalled out (see below). However, a couple of weeks ago I got an unexpected urge to try this book again, and though I got off to a slow start, after a few days I was into the book for the long run; I'm currently 478 pages in (more than halfway) with 400 left to go. Although Wouk's prose is occasionally long-winded, it does carry the story along, though a bit of tightening here and there wouldn't have hurt. There are, perhaps, too many cocktails and too many meals, but I'll say this for Wouk: he makes you wish you were partaking of those meals!

All in all, I enjoyed my re-read of this book very much, despite its sprawl - it could have been a bit shorter, and the sub-plot about Hawke's mother and her lawsuit might have been trimmed as well, as it detracted from the main tale, which is the near-meteoric rise and almost-fall of Youngblood Hawke, author.

2012: I first read YOUNGBLOOD HAWKE in 1972, as a teenager (back then there was nothing like the plethora of teen fiction one encounters today, and if a teenager liked to read, as I did, it wasn't unusual for them to read adult material). I'd first noticed it in the library in the mid-1960s, attracted by the orange dust-jacket of the hardcover edition and the size of the book. I had a lot more time to read in 1972, apparently, because it's one among many rather lengthy books I read that year - however, I've only managed 56 pages since beginning it earlier this week.

I'm not sure how aware I was back then that this was essentially a roman á clêf about Thomas Wolfe, and that characters such as Frieda Winter and Waldo Fipps were based on Aline Bernstein (Wolfe's lover) and Maxwell Perkins (Wolfe's editor at Scribners), though I've certainly been aware of this in the years since. And I wonder what today's readers can make of it, not knowing.

Anyway, I have nothing else going right now, so we'll see.

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Reading Progress

06/25/2015 marked as: currently-reading
07/02/2015 page 823
93.0% "Into the home stretch!"
07/03/2015 marked as: read
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