Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Typewriter in Full: Tom Wolfe Needs the Typosphere

Where are all the typewriters? In some sort of bonfire? 

Tom Wolfe wrote his new novel, Back to Blood, entirely by hand. But the author of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Bonfire of the Vanities also says that wasn't entirely by choice — he'd rather have used a typewriter.
"Unfortunately, you can't keep typewriters going today — you have to take the ribbons back to be re-inked," Wolfe tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "There's a horrible search to try to find missing parts."

Can't keep them going? Re-inked ribbons? Where have you been, Tom? Typewriters are very much alive.

Richard Polt's website lists many repair shops in the New York area. One of the most famous is Gramercy:

Gramercy Typewriter Company, 174 5th Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010. 212-674-7700. "Since 1932, serving the New York City area for typewriter sales and repairs of all makes and models. Specialist in IBM Selectric and Wheelwriter models. Overhauls on your old manual typewriters. Expert service on your Hewlett Packard laser jet printers too! For all your typewriter and laser jet printer needs, just call. Ask for Paul. He has been in the business for over 45 years. He must be doing something right! Call 212-674-7700, and on weekends call (917) 833-3277." Here is an article about owner Paul Schweitzer, here's another about him and his son Justin, here's an NPR story, and here is another story with video.

So, Tom, grab your walking stick and go visit Paul. I know he'll set you right up.


Richard P said...

Mr. Wolfe, Mr. Wolfe, I think you pulled that misinformation right out of your ... pencil. How silly!

Will Davis said...

Yeah.. I don't know where this guy has been, but clearly he didn't even perform the most cursory Google search to see what's been going on.

mpclemens said...

Time to send Mr. Wolfe some typewritten letters, I suppose?

Cameron said...

One would think that with such a fertile imagination, Tom Wolfe would be a bit more "hip" and knowledgeable about typewriters and ribbons!

Sounds like rather a lame cop-out, to me.

Someone needs to educate him -- QUICKLY. (If he doesn't happen to see this blog.)

Scott K said...

Oh, I feel this was a rubbish quip that he made up simply to give the interviewer something to talk about - about his writing. There's still plenty of writers writing on typewriter, so how do you make a point about it?

I agree though, total garbage. The book however sounds interesting.

Tom Fasano said...

What typewriter does Tom Wolfe use? It looks kind of like one of those Underwood Five machines from the 1960s. But not exactly. Here's a link to a People Magazine photo.

mpclemens said...

That's a good question, Tom. I usually turn to Richard Polt's page to see what he has listed, but all he's got is the brand. I'll post a question to the group at large.

Anonymous said...

While Tom Wolfe referred to his typewriter as a 1966 Underwood in interviews, it appears to be an Olivetti Underwood Studio 21. I picked up a nice example which arrived today and it's a splendid machine.

Of course nice, fresh ribbons are readily available.

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