Wolfe writes tales about people, but almost always in the form of journals: he is giving us his protagonists' lives as they themselves are experiencing them, with all the tricks and quirks of memory--their memories--making the narratives untrustworthy both to us and to the characters themselves (though they often don't grasp that). We, and they, can only await later events that will cast light back through time and show us the earlier events in a new and--possibly--now correct perspective. Or maybe we, and they, will never really know the "truth" of what once happened to them. (Rashomon, anyone?) Moreover, some of Wolfe's characters deliberately lie in their tellings, certainly to us and probably to themselves.
In a way, the further forward we go in a Wolfe tale, the further back we go, for the events happening now are, in effect, revising the events that happened then.
Reading such works, and understanding what is happening in them and what we may take away from them, is not simple, but neither is it the "jigsaw puzzle" that is often suggested. We need only abandon the convention, and an artificial one at that, that the author of a tale must always be telling us what "really" is happening: what Wolfe is telling us is what "really" is happening inside his protagonists' minds. How "real" that is in an objective sense is left for us (and them) to work out in the fullness of the tale's term.
That's the bottom line: listen to Wolfe's characters tell their tales, but believe their tellings no more, or less, than you would a story from any stranger. Then, when the telling is done, make your own judgements.
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