Renowned author Tom Wolfe dies at 88

Ruben Ruiz
May 16, 2018

Tom Wolfe, innovative journalist and best-selling author of The Right Stuff and Bonfire of the Vanities, died Monday in a Manhattan hospital. He had been hospitalised with an infection.

Wolfe was associated with other New Journalism writers like Hunter S. Thompson, Joan Didion and Truman Capote.

Born in Virginia in 1931, Wolfe went straight into reportage out of university, beginning at the Springfield Union in MA.

Wolfe was a esteemed journalist and non-fiction writer, whose works also included The Right Stuff and Bonfires of the Vanities.

A talented baseball player, he also played throughout school and semi-professionally whilst studying in college.

In 1962, he was hired by The New York Herald Tribune, where his editor, Clay Felker, encouraged him to try new avenues in journalism that broke with standard objective reporting.

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

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He was a pioneer of the literary technique known as New Journalism, and co-edited the ground-breaking The New Journalism handbook - a collection of essays - in 1973. He told CBS News that when he was starting out in his career, he was interested in fiction, but quickly found himself captivated by nonfiction.

By then he had already published a number of ground-breaking books of his own, including "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test", in which Wolfe provided a psychedelic chronicle of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters as they experimented with LSD.

Wolfe moved to writing novels in the mid-1980s, penning "The Bonfire of the Vanities".

Even more impressive, to many critics, was "The Right Stuff", his exhaustively reported narrative about the first USA astronauts and the Mercury space program. Starring Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith, it was a commercial and critical flop.

From 1965 to 1981, Wolfe produced nine nonfiction books. I wanted to do New York High and Low.

Wolfe is survived by his wife and two children.

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