After boycotting the 1980 Olympics, 1984 was a big one for the United States, especially considering they took place in Los Angeles. This piece is interesting because it shows Wolcott’s versatility as a journalist, and also highlights American gymnastics a year before Mary Lou Retton would capture the first gold in all-around competition by an athlete from outside of Eastern Europe. (Subscription required)
Wolcott on the 1990s revival for Vanity Fair, 2014
Nostalgia, Wolcott writes in this very recent Vanity Fair piece, is “mostly a white people’s pastime.” And although it seems that every generation needs another generation to emulate, Wolcott gets right to the things that make the possible “Last Great Decade” such a strange choice: “The ’90s were the decade when the last tatters of privacy were torn aside, a national forest of woodies seemed to sprout overnight thanks to the rollout of a little blue pill called Viagra, reality TV unthroned soap opera as the medium’s queen of discord, and political theater lit up like a porno set.”
Wolcott on garbage television for The New Yorker, 1996
Remember the dark days before this golden age of television that we’ve been enjoying since around the time when Tony Soprano decided it was time to kill Big Pussy? Wolcott wrote this piece in those pre-blog days when daytime talk shows hosted by Jerry Springer and Maury Povich actually had us declaring the death of television, and deciding that American pop culture was headed down a road to nowhere.
Wolcott on The Selected Letters of William Styron for The London Review of Books, 2013
Literary criticism is a tough beast to conquer, yet Wolcott has shown time and time again that the key to good cultural criticism is to be able to pick apart the book you’re reviewing and see what makes it work.
Courtesy of Vanity Fair
Wolcott on New York and Norman Mailer for Vanity Fair, 2011
You can read Wolcott’s own story in Lucking Out, but you can also go over to the Vanity Fair website right now and read this personal piece that will make you miss the old New York, old media, and maybe even Norman Mailer.