New Journalism Pioneer and Best-Selling Author Tom Wolfe Dies

Tom Wolfe reportsIn a career that spanned more than half a century, Tom Wolfe wrote fiction and nonfiction best-sellers including The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Bonfire of the Vanities. Along the way, he created a new type of journalism and coined phrases that became part of the American lexicon. Wolfe died Monday in Manhattan age age 87.

From Starting off as a reporter in the late 1950s, Wolfe quickly developed a nonfiction style that borrowed from the tenets of literature, delivering dynamic, character-driven pieces that would help give birth to a movement known as New Journalism. Whether profiling One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author Ken Kesey and his hippie pals the Merry Pranksters or America’s first astronauts, Wolfe had a dramatist’s gift for the telling detail and for crafting page-turning suspense. Inventing household phrases like “the Me Decade” and “the Right Stuff,” he eventually set his sights on a novel, using his journalistic talents to produce a deeply researched and utterly absorbing portrait of 1980s New York with the blockbuster 1987 book The Bonfire of the Vanities. His very presence was as striking as his writing, always appearing in public in his snazzy white three-piece suits and sporting an aristocratic manner that made him as memorable as the colorful individuals he chronicled. “Never try to fit in; it’s sheer folly,” he once advised. “Be an odd, eccentric character. People will volunteer information to you.”

From LATimes.comTom Wolfe loved American culture for all its excess. Groupies, doormen, hippies, astronauts, bankers and frat boys took on a magisterial presence in his writing, and if there was a hint of hypocrisy in their actions, then all the better.

Wolfe reveled in worlds where people stood tall and acted with extravagance and swagger. He often joined the parade himself, author-turned-celebrity in his cream-colored suit, walking stick in hand.
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New Journalism Pioneer and Best-Selling Author Tom Wolfe Dies
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New Journalism Pioneer and Best-Selling Author Tom Wolfe Dies
Tom Wolfe, pioneer of new journalism and best-selling author of ground-breaking novels, including "Bonfire of the Vanities," has died in Manhattan at age 87.