A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe is the most detailed and descriptive book I have read in a long time, if not ever. Wolfe uses such detail that you feel you are actually at the room in which the scene is taking place and hearing the characters talk in their deep southern accents. That being said, this also makes for a long book – just to prepare you. In fact, he uses so much detail that you could easily create a Man in Full tour of Atlanta. It would include a tour of homes in Buckhead (Tuxedo Park: Blackland Road, Habersham Road, West Paces Ferry) and Buford Highway (Chamblee) as well as landmarks (Peachtree-DeKalb Airport, the High Museum, Woodruff Arts Center & the Atlanta Symphony, Niskey Lake, Piedmont Driving Club, Georgia Tech, English Avenue).
I was very intrigued when friends were discussing this book that is set mostly in Atlanta. And if someone I know recommends a book, you can bet it’s going on my reading list. It’s set in the late ’90s, after the city hosts the 1996 Olympics. What I enjoyed most about the book, other than the highly descriptive language, was the mix of historical facts and people with characters and events of the story. I like to imagine that this was the original Gossip Girl – the book is released and high-society Atlanta goes into a frenzy speculating about who each character is actually based on. It’s also fascinating, or maybe incredibly sad, that you can’t tell this book was published 17 years ago. The issues it covers are not too different than issues you see all over the news today – race relations, sexual assault, class inequality, bribes, questionable politics. There is a wide range of characters and you develop strong feelings (positive, negative, sometimes both) for all of them.
I highly recommend this book, especially if you’re from the Atlanta area or have been in the area a while.