This is a nearly impossible book to review. It is at once a classic, an experimental masterpiece, a resounding mess, and a beautiful failure. When I talk about which books inspired me to become a writer I often cite LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN by James Agee. LOOK HOMEWARD ANGEL would, I suspect, have had the same sort of effect on me had I read it when I was a teenager, which is the age at which I read FAMOUS MEN. At such an age, and with the wild, passionate temperament of youth, I thrilled to the elevated (faintly purple) prose, the long passages of meandering, if somewhat superfluous beauty, the self-consciousness, the insistence by the author to include EVERYTHING. But re-reading FAMOUS MEN, and now reading ANGEL as a middle-aged woman I am impatient with the self-indulgence, which in Agee I put down to too much whiskey, but for which I have no such excuse in Wolfe. I find myself skipping passages, which is never a good sign. There is no denying Wolfe's stunning capacity for character depth. The question is, does the story require quite this much depth? If passages were trimmed, if details were pared down to only the very best, would anything have been lost? I suspect not. Faulkner and Kerouac both cited Wolfe as an influence, and I can see that -- the high poetics, the stream-of-consciousness, the young man's unbridled, undisciplined approach to art is obvious. And there is certainly a value in that. I just wish Wolfe had made more choices, instead of flinging everything at the page and then keeping everything. There's something to be said for Oscar Wilde, who "spent the morning putting in a comma, and spent the afternoon taking it out again."I would definitely recommend ANGEL to my fourteen-year-old self. It would have, I think, enhanced my writer's education, and I will recommend it to anyone under the age of 25 who either wants to be a writer or who loves literature. But for those of us who have lived a while, and who have less patience for pyrotechnics, ANGEL is a bit of a slog, albeit a mightily poetic one.