Entertaiment

Tom Wolfe, Groundbreaking Novelist and Nonfiction Pioneer, Gone at 88

Tom Wolfe, Groundbreaking Novelist and Nonfiction Pioneer, Gone at 88

Wolfe, 88, had been hospitalized with an infection and died Monday, according to his agent Lynn Nesbit. He was a newspaper reporter before he became a magazine writer... and a group of his magazine articles were parts of his first book in 1965 - "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby".

He was more genteel in writing for the public, but more devastating - or, when his subjects merited it ("The Right Stuff"), more in awe.

Throughout, he relentlessly thumbed the hypersensitive brethren of those Yale censors in the eye, and did it with style. Throughout his work, Wolfe's marvelous facility with language created several new phrases, including "radical chic" and "the Me decade".

Wolfe continuously strove to break down both journalistic and literary "rules", eschewing what he considered the stiffness of the generation that preceded him.

His first work of fiction turned out to be his most famous, the bestseller The Bonfire of the Vanities, an epic satire on social class, ambition, racism, politics and greed in 1980s NY.

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In honor of the iconic writer, we look at Wolfe's most memorable works. These antique ankle-protectors and a silver-topped cane often complemented the white suits he always wore in public.

How Money Got Free author Brian Patrick Eha called Wolfe "a true original", New York Times best-seller Brad Thor praised him as a "magnificent author", and The New Yorker's Susan Orlean recalled how "dazzled" she was by The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

Fiction, history, and journalism are separate heavyweight divisions of American literature, with their own champions. He graduated Washington and Lee University, after he'd turned down Princeton University.

Wolfe is survived by his wife and two children.


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