Best-Selling Writer Tom Wolfe Dies At Age 88

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

16 May, 2018

The author died at a Manhattan hospital on Monday after being hospitalized with an infection, The Guardian reports.

In 1962 he moved to NY and began working in the NY Herald Tribune. He edited the influential collection The New Journalism, which included essays by Joan Didion, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and others.

In addition to his writings, Wolfe was also known for his foppish style and signature white suit, though in older age he swapped out tall collars for polo shirts.

His agent reportedly declined to comment in further detail about her client's death, however, she did refer reporters to an article in the Wall Street Journal, where she was quoted as saying: "He is not just an American icon, but he had a huge worldwide literary reputation".

In this way, Wolfe was a pioneer of storytelling and creative nonfiction whose influence is still felt today.

American author and journalist Tom Wolfe in 2016
American author and journalist Tom Wolfe in 2016

On "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test", our reviewer wrote, "it is not simply the best book on the hippies, it is the essential book". "His prose style is normally shotgun baroque, sometimes edging over into machine-gun rococo, as in his article on Las Vegas which begins by repeating the word "hernia" fifty-seven times".

Wolfe started his career as a newspaper reporter.

FILE - President George W. Bush, Tom Wolfe and first lady Laura Bush are pictured at the National Endowment for the Arts national medal awards ceremony at Constitution Hall in Washington, April 22, 2002. "I carried a copy of Electric Acid Kool-aid Test with me throughout high school, dazzled by the idea that you could really write like that about real things".

The Right Stuff, Wolfe's 1979 account of the early days of the US space program and the test pilots recruited for it, remains his best-selling work.

"Saddened to hear of Tom Wolfe's passing". Having championed the merits of reportage over contemporary fiction, he finally turned to the novel in mid-life, scoring huge commercial success with The Bonfire of the Vanities, a bustling satire on New York's social and racial divide. He'd never leave the city, making a home there with his wife Sheila and their two children until his death.

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