Tuesday, 22 May, 2018

Tom Wolfe, Best-Selling Author and Innovative Journalist, Dies at 88

ImageTom Wolfe in 1988. He was known for his verbal pyrotechnics in books like “The Right Stuff.”CreditÁngel Franco  The New York Times ImageTom Wolfe in 1988. He was known for his verbal pyrotechnics in books like “The Right Stuff.”CreditÁngel Franco The New York Times
Lora Ball | 16 May, 2018, 06:40

In 1962 he moved to NY and began working in the NY Herald Tribune.

In 1989 Wolfe published an article, Stalking the Billion-Footed Beast, in which he implied that The Bonfire of the Vanities, his first novel, was effectively superior to the combined output of near-contemporaries such as Mailer, John Updike and John Irving.

He went on to have a successful career in writing, with four of his influential books being made into films. "And one ... coming up is on political correctness, which I think is the funniest subject in a long- in a long, long time", Wolfe said.

Born and Raised in Richmond, Virginia, to an agronomist father and a mother who was a landscape architect, Wolfe traced his love for literature to the books his parents kept on their bookshelves. As Wolfe helped define it, the "new journalism" combined the emotional impact of a novel, the analysis of the best essays, and the factual foundation of hard reporting. Below, a look back at Wolfe's iconic style.

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A contrarian with a satirical bent, Wolfe's prose pyrotechnics and oft-startling turns-of-phrase found their way into the pop-culture lexicon and cemented Wolfe as one of the finest writers of his generation.

Wolfe never converted to writing on a computer. "Bonfire", a best-seller that was a much-revised version of a serial he wrote for Rolling Stone, portrayed class struggles in New York City against a backdrop of Wall Street ambition, racial stress and yellow journalism.

After his death was announced, an outpouring of tributes came from American journalists.

A staunch free expression advocate, Wolfe was a passionate supporter of PEN America for more than 30 years. Wolfe was so cash-strapped at the time that he kept the suit and wore it during the winter, causing no shortage of double takes in an era when people really didn't wear white after Labor Day. He admitted he liked the attention they brought him. He was a star pitcher in high school and in college at Washington and Lee and unsuccessfully tried out for the New York Giants. He had two children.

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