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You Can't Go Home Again

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  4,226 ratings  ·  277 reviews
George Webber has written a successful novel about his family and hometown. When he returns to that town he is shaken by the force of the outrage and hatred that greets him. Family and friends feel naked and exposed by the truths they have seen in his book, and their fury drives him from his home. He begins a search for his own identity that takes him to New York and a hec ...more
Paperback, 711 pages
Published August 5th 1998 by Harper Perennial (first published 1940)
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heidi honestly, i cannot imagine reading one other thing written by this guy. he is way too verbose. i made it to page 87 and chucked it. it was laborious,…morehonestly, i cannot imagine reading one other thing written by this guy. he is way too verbose. i made it to page 87 and chucked it. it was laborious, exhausting, wearying, and enervating. surprised i had the wherewithal to lift it high enough to fling it across the room. sheez.(less)

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4.05  · 
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 ·  4,226 ratings  ·  277 reviews

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Dec 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Written in 1934, nothing has changed. People still fall in love, get hurt, have dreams, kill, lie and cheat. There was a total lack of respect for the earth then as now. Overbuilding and greed were rampant then, no worse and not better than now. Greed drives need.

Still, a good story of hope, perseverance and victory of the spirit.
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I finally finished this 704-page tome. It took me almost a year: I kept putting it down--sometimes for weeks at a time--and picking it back up again. Every time I started reading it again I was always glad, though, because I really liked his writing. There were a couple of chapters that I thought were overly long, and possibly 100 or so pages could have been cut entirely without leaving the novel lacking. However, I'm glad he rambled on because he led me to some beautiful places. Thomas Wolfe re ...more
Joy H.
Mar 01, 2011 marked it as read-partially
Shelves: read-a-while-ago
Re: _You Can't Go Home Again _ (1940) By Thomas Wolfe
(I read to page 195 but did not finish the book.)
Added 3/1/11.

This is very dense reading, but I was floored by its beauty. I copied the following quote by hand, before the days of computers:
"Some things will never change. Some things will always be the same. Lean down your ear upon the earth and listen.
"The voice of forest water in the night, a woman's laughter in the dark, the clean, hard rattle of raked gravel, t
Nov 07, 2016 rated it liked it
A ponderous, sprawling, autobiographical novel of America and Europe in the 1920’s and ‘30’s that reveals acute observation on the human condition at the time. All of Thomas Woolfe’s novels seem to be drawn from real life. They are largely plot-less, character focussed and disjointed, and stitched together by painstaking editing that included the writing of whole sections by the editor to hold the disparate parts together.

In this seven-part tome, each part labeled a book—carved out a larger body
classic reverie
Several months ago I was listening to an OTR (old time radio) show called NBC university theatre which does a condensed version of a classic/celebrated books into a radio play, and I heard an interesting ending of a train scene. At the end of the show, they announced it was Thomas Wolfe's You Can't Go Home Again. What peaked my interest in reading the book was this scene where some man was trying to escape Germany & was captured. I did not understand what the story was about nor who the auth ...more
Mar 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: modern-lit
This is another thing about whether you can go home. When I was little my father disowned us from both sides of our family. Only very recently, a year or two ago did I start seeing my mother's two sisters. I've been invited to a birthday for one of them this weekend, at which I would see oodles of my mother's side of the family, really all there would be to see. Do I go? Every time I think about it, I can't help saying to myself You Can't Go Home, but maybe you can? Maybe? If you suddenly for th ...more
Kate Walker
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I was hooked from the first page and really savored the whole 700+ page experience. Wolfe is spookily insightful, cutting right to the quick of human nature, and our many pretentions. Wolfe describes so many different types of people and you recognize every one. The book has a very timeless quality to it. From overspeculation in the real estate market to the media's bizarre fixation with celebrities... this book could have been written yesterday, and yet it was written in the 1930's. Wolfe's pow ...more
David Fleming
Jun 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: topten
Faulkner called Wolfe the best of their generation, "the finest failure."

I admire most the scope of Wolfe's writing. It seems at times that he was trying to capture all of America in a single novel, and if he didn't quite make it he comes very, very close.

And he was, at his heart, hopeful: Wolfe believed in the possibility of religious transcendence and he believed in America, and the possibilities it had. Those twin optimisms, to me, lie at the heart of the very best moments of this novel.

Aug 16, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: modernism
At page 454, I am abandoning this text, at least for a while.

*You Can't Go Home Again* is such an influential work, especially within American literature, that I had to continually remind myself that what struck me as "old hat" or cliche, was, in all reality, fairly innovative; the passages that reminded me of Kerouac, were, in fact, the passages that inspired Kerouac. This work has some exceptionally beautiful and affecting passages--I'm thinking, most recently in my reading, of the suicide sc
May 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Thomas Wolfe (NOT TOM WOLFE!) is from Asheville, NC. I was in Asheville when I bought this book, and it was later that day...still in Asheville...that I got appendicitis. So I have that association.

Anyway, I started reading this book while recovering and just now finished...that was around May 15th I guess, and its now September 4rd, so that's roughly 110 days...and the book is 704 pages so that's almost 7 pages a day. Hm.

My point is, this is a long, long book but I've never read so feverishly,
Claire S
Mar 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Claire by: High school
I'd forgotten about this till it came up in the quiz.
My senior year of high school, I had some sort of comp lit class, and we had to do a major paper on one book, and I did it on this.
And my paper was all about the theme of interlocking webs of some sort. I think 3 layers of, um, webbing.. like himself; his community; and the country or something. I'll have to look it up again.
I really liked it, enjoyed the complexity, and felt a certain resonance because going home was exactly what I planned t
A young author writes a best seller but meets with hostility in his home town. He travels to Germany and experiences the rise of Nazism.

This book is being edited by Distributed Proofreaders Canada and it will be available at FadedPage.
David Lentz
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"You Can't Go Home, Again" is really not so much a work of fiction as an autobiography in which the names of characters have been changed. Wolfe seemed unapologetic about the baldly autobiographical nature of his work. However, some may perceive his autobiography as evidence of a certain lack of creative reach and an aversion to creative risk-taking on his part. Wolfe's life was so deeply and richly lived in a relatively short period and so lyrically written that his autobiography reads as vibra ...more
Apr 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The paperback version of this novel is 711 pages long. This novel is a saga about George Webber, a prototype for the author, Thomas Wolfe. The novel depicts events at least three levels: George Webber's struggle to write novels and gain acceptance by other novelists and publishers; America's transformation from the go-go 20's to economic ruin and depression in the 1930's; and how Webber seeks salvation by sailing to England and Germany in the mid 1930's, a few years before the start of World War ...more
Oct 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love the way books come to me sometimes - this one as a yellowed, tattered edition sold at a market stall for €1. I've wanted to read it for ages. The text is very dense but Wolfe's eye is keen, especially when it comes to observations about people, though I feel like his judgements can be a bit arrogant and unkind here and there. Still, I feel like this book merits recommended reading status, especially for a girl like me, who mislaid her ruby slippers somewhere along the road, sometime back.
Oct 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
I don't get it.

Thomas Wolfe's "You Can't Go Home Again" (YCGHA) currently enjoys a 4.04/5 rating on Goodreads and hovers near a 4/5 in Amazon. I don't understand why. The book (which can be hardly called a novel) is a disjointed, meandering, verbose effort, full of self-importance and navel-gazing. Unless the vast majority of readers just really like lots of adjectives, my guess is that most people rate this book highly because it's a "classic" and giving it a high score means that you "get it"
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
The book has some beautiful moments, but to find them you have to wade through endless description of minutiae. Every scene is so dense with detail, that you begin to feel that his objective in writing this novel was to hone his ability to convey the aesthetics of a situation and the thought processes of his characters. He is eloquent and has a flawless eye, but in my view the description detracts from the story, which develops at an excruciating pace. If you are more oriented towards beautiful ...more
Mar 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: classic
The title is wonderful.
The prose is long and seems dated. This is a very slow read but does capture a period of turmoil in the 20th century. I read it for a book group years ago, and often cursed the member who suggested it. My recollection was that we had to skip a month and most members of the group didn't finish it.
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thomas Wolfe's masterpiece is Look Homeward, Angel that I have read and reviewed. I give this book 4 stars only in relation to the 5 stars of the earlier work. This book also draws on Wolfe's personal experience but is more a look at the world of the late 1920's and 1930's with Wolfe's philosophy. That philosophy empathizes with the little guy, the pursuit of wealth blinding to reality those who achieve it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book for its ability to take me back to the early 20th century, i
Seth Kupchick
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"You Can't Go Home Again," was the first Thomas Wolfe book I read probably because I liked the title, or maybe it was the only one in the bookstore, but for whatever reason it was the one handed down to me, though Thomas Wolfe's novels often feel like one long book, though they do have different moods and feelings. I first read Wolfe because I knew he was a big influence on Jack Kerouac and I wanted to be a writer, inspired by the Beats in spirit, and thought I had to read a lot of good books be ...more
John Ruane
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a book you have to commit to reading, but it is also a book that presents the great, great talent of Thomas Wolfe. He became my literary hero with this book, published after he left us in 1938. I call him the poet novelist. His words are poetry placed within the story of his life. If you are a writer, or reader interested in world-class writing talent, I strongly recommend you read this book.
Cassie Buckner
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
By my estimates I have picked up and put down this book twenty times in the past 7 years. I have a problem that I have to finish books that I start and this one was slow for me.

I think God made me pick it back up and finish it at the right time. It's funny how that works.

The last third of this book made the whole endeavor worth it. It is so packed with so much foresight that it may be one of the best books ever written.

Some quotes:

'"You sink it is so bad here no?-ze vay sings are wiz ze Party an
Hayk Toroyan
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If there has been a perfect writer it was Thomas Wolfe. A writer who can describe emotions, feelings, people and places in a way that the reader would live through every sentence written in his books. Wolfe writes “…and when they laughed, there was no warmth or joy in the sound: high, shrill, ugly, and hysterical, their laughter only asked the earth to notice them…” and you can imagine, understand and see those people described by one sentence. Or he can describe a person’s gaze by an inner mono ...more
This is a quiet 10 year epic odyssey, and you'll know that's true when I tell you that it essentially starts with Black Tuesday, 1929, and ends just before the start of WWII, 1939, with stops in North Carolina, Brooklyn, London, Paris and Berlin. The uni-directional quality struck me as pretty cool, by the end, (and which of course ties in to the title and its multiple meanings, including the fact of constant social change.) We also meet many characters and they don't necessarily make a repeat a ...more
James Neve
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this, but it is a pretty long, hard read. What I love about this Wolfe (NEVER to be confused with "tom wolfe," whom I will never read another word of) is that he narrates through the horrors of the 30's (and corresponding literary movements) and hints- or even promises- an ultimate triumph. Very, very similar to Faulkner's Nobel speech....but he never, ever sugar-coats the modern assessment of mankind. I had no idea what to expect here, having only read a few of his short stories. I gu ...more
Michael Holmes
Jun 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It deserves the title "classic" in every sense of the word -- but be prepared.

At 700 plus pages, it's a hefty volume, so if you appreciate a story told in exacting detail, you're in for a great treat. If you want a more pithy story, get a comic book.

I noticed a pattern while reading the various reviews by their respective authors: if it didn't mesh with their favorite genres and writing styles, they simply didn't connect with this story. Not surprising.

In my own opinion, some of these critics
Benjamin Harris
Oct 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What an incredible book. Wolfe is extraordinarily insightful and is a keen observer of human nature. He rambles quite a bit and goes off on all sorts of tangents, but the prose is so strong that in the end I didn't mind that so much. Probably some people would lose patience with that. From a lesser writer, I know I would have.

I actually bought this book some years ago and it had just been sitting on my bookshelf (this happens to me often because I often buy books faster than II can finish readin
Patrick Gibson
May 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
“Not a great novelist—but a great writer?” I’ll have to agree with that. I am re-reading both Wolfe masterpieces, since the first time I read them the words were wasted on my youth. Now I will let them be wasted on my middle age. Wolfe had courage, I’ll give him that—courage to attempt showing every ounce of his personal experience in the pure, naked, and sometimes brutal light of truth. This he did with a just hand toward both the extraordinary and the mundane alike. Extraordinary experiences, ...more
Dec 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
There are few books I have ever read that have been more beautifully written than You Can't Go Home Again. The characters are full and richly drawn. The plot, when it moves, is an interesting one, and Wolfe's insight is profound and inspirational. The only thing that kept me from giving this book five stars is that it is so dense, so wordy, so incredibly overwritten that it is nearly impossible to finish. It being an autobiographical novel, I found it very interesting that the main character tal ...more
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
I think every successful writer of fiction is allowed one exegesis of self-pity, and this is Wolfe's. Fortunately, since Wolfe is capable of unplugging his sizable head from his wide ass, he can craft a pretty compelling portrait of the Jazz Age deteriorating into the Great Depression here in the US, and he evokes pre-WWII Europe quite well. Considering that Wolfe died in 1938, his sojourn in Nazi Germany is shockingly poignant. The meaty travelogue, however, is sandwiched between thick slices o ...more
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A writers author. 6 30 Nov 16, 2013 10:01AM  

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Thomas Clayton Wolfe (October 3, 1900 – September 15, 1938) was an American novelist of the early twentieth century.

Wolfe wrote four lengthy novels, plus many short stories, dramatic works and novellas. He is known for mixing highly original, poetic, rhapsodic, and impressionistic prose with autobiographical writing. His books, written and published from the 1920s to the 1940s, vividly reflect on
“Make your mistakes, take your chances, look silly, but keep on going. Don’t freeze up.” 2959 likes
“I have to see a thing a thousand times before I see it once.” 1685 likes
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