Maverick of USA literature Tom Wolfe is dead aged 88

Hugh Fox
May 16, 2018

Tom Wolfe had only one thing about him that was informal and unfussy in his later life, and that was his first name.

And when he ventured into fiction, starting with "The Bonfire of the Vanities", he still reported - painting page upon page of untold truths of '80s NY, from Wall Street to Park Avenue to The Bronx.

Around this time, he began working as a journalist, moving to New York in 1962 for a position at The New York Herald Tribune.

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Wolfe was also famous for his dapper "Southern gentleman" look, often appearing in public in a pristine white suit, white homburg hat, and two-tone shoes.

New Journalism mixed traditional journalism for stylized journalism, and "saturation reporting", where a reporter would shadow the subject, observes them over an extended period of time. He wrote a long letter to his editor, Clay Felker, describing what he was trying to do, and the editor, as good editors do, simply clipped off the "Dear Clay" salutation, and ran the piece unaltered. Nine years later and in a more restrained style than some of his earlier works, he wrote The Right Stuff about the first seven U.S. astronauts and test pilot Chuck Yeager who came before them. It followed the greed, racism and social classes of New York City in the 1980s.

"To be honest, I have only five more planned". He didn't just help me to become a writer.

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His contributions to American literature were varied and very influential in the '60s and '70s when he wrote "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test", "Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers", "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby".

Wolfe is survived by his wife and two children.

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