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giftedviz.com July 22, 2018


Acclaimed author Tom Wolfe dead at 87

16 May 2018, 01:40 | Max Haynes

Tom Wolfe at home in New York in 2016 Credit Dan Callister

Tom Wolfe at home in New York in 2016

Wolfe began his career as a journalist, working for the New York Herald Tribune in 1962.

Among his acclaimed books were The Right Stuff and The Bonfire Of The Vanities, a satire of Manhattan-style power and justice that became one of the best-selling books of the Eighties.

A gifted amateur baseball player, Wolfe tried out in 1952 for the then-New York Giants, but he ended up getting cut and eventually landed at Yale University, where he pursued a graduate degree in American studies.

A scathing takedown of greed and excess in NY, it was recognized as an essential American novel of the 1980s and was made into a film starring Tom Hanks. The writer pioneered New Journalism, a 1960s and 1970s literary movement characterized by colorful longform pieces written in a subjective voice.

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.

"His work changed my life and convinced me to write nonfiction", bestselling writer Susan Orlean wrote of Wolfe in a Twitter post on Tuesday.

A prime example of the technique was Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which gave an account of the counter-culture group the Merry Pranksters and employed experimental use of onomatopoeia, free associated and dramatic punctuation to translate the personalities and idea of the group.

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He once told NPR about his method: "I looked at the whole city first". "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".

"Once I zeroed in on these areas, I would then find the characters", he added.

His most successful work to date, the novel was adapted into a big screen production in 1990, starring Tom Hanks, 61, and Bruce Willis, 63.

Even more impressive, to many critics, was "The Right Stuff", his exhaustively reported narrative about the first USA astronauts and the Mercury space program.

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.

After moving to New York, Wolfe settled there for the rest of his life along with his wife Sheila and their two daughters.



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