Tom Wolfe: When I was in college, like almost everybody who was serious about writing and thought they might themselves be writers, I thought that writing was 95 percent genius. You had to write about something, so the other five percent was just this clay that you fooled around with. That’s why I think there are so many terrific young poets, because poetry is the music of literature. Just playing with words can do just marvelous things, when it’s used as music. But then you reach a certain age and you realize that the ballgame, in terms of prestige in literature, is not poetry, it’s prose. Whether that’s good or bad, that’s the way things are. And at that point, you find the young writer cannibalizing his life — let’s say he’s 22, 23, 25 — and he writes his first novel. And it may be great too. Everybody’s life has great material. In fact, Emerson said, “Every person on this earth has a great story to tell, if only he can figure out what is his unique experience.” But he didn’t say everyone has two. He said everyone has one. So now the second novel comes along, and that’s when you get this kind of pathetic novel. It’s about a young novelist who had a great critical success with his first book but he really didn’t make any money, and he’s living in this four-story walk-up in the Clinton area of New York, and he doesn’t have a girlfriend, can’t go out to dinner. And this is not really a terrific novel. Nobody really cares about his fate after his great critical success.