Author Tom Wolfe attends the 2012 Trophee Des Arts Gala at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. Picture: AFP
Author Tom Wolfe attends the 2012 Trophee Des Arts Gala at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. Picture: AFP

Author Tom Wolfe dead at 87

TOM Wolfe, famous for works like The Bonfire of the Vanities, The Right Stuff and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, has passed away in Manhattan at the age of 87.

His agent confirmed the news to The New York Times. He had been hospitalised with an infection.

American author and journalist Tom Wolfe in 2016.  Picture:  AP
American author and journalist Tom Wolfe in 2016. Picture: AP

The New York Post reports that Wolfe, who began working as a journalist for the New York Herald Tribune in 1962, was known for being one of the first journalists to apply literary techniques to their work, a style that was coined New Journalism.

New Journalism is a style of reporting in which a writer immerses themselves in a story.

Born in Richmond, Virginia in 1931, Wolfe attended Washington and Lee for undergrad and Yale for his Ph.D.

Before moving to New York in the 60s, Wolfe worked as a reporter at the Springfield Union in Massachusetts and as the Latin American correspondent for The Washington Post.

His first book, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, was a collection of essays originally published in Esquire magazine.

While the stories have no connecting theme, this is the first book that gave early examples of New Journalism.

Then US President George W Bush, left, poses with author Tom Wolfe, centre, and first lady Laura Bush in 2002 as the author received the National Humanities Medal. Picture:  AP
Then US President George W Bush, left, poses with author Tom Wolfe, centre, and first lady Laura Bush in 2002 as the author received the National Humanities Medal. Picture: AP

 

Wolfe's other books include The Pump House Gang, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, The Painted Word and Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine, which includes his well-known essay about the Me Decade.

His best-selling book The Right Stuff, which is about rocket aeroplane experiments post World War II and the Project Mercury astronauts, won the American Book Award for nonfiction, the National Institute of Arts and Letters Harold Vursell Award for prose style, and the Columbia Journalism Award.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe. Picture:  Supplied
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe. Picture: Supplied

 

The Bonfire of The Vanities by Tom Wolfe. Picture:  Supplied
The Bonfire of The Vanities by Tom Wolfe. Picture: Supplied

Wolfe's first novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, was a series of essays for Rolling Stone magazine and came out as a book in 1987.

It followed the greed, racism and social classes of New York City in the 1980s.

Wolfe is survived by his wife Sheila, and two children, Alexandra and Tommy.

His rep did not immediately return a request for comment.

This article originally appeared in the New York Post and is republished here with permission


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