Tom Wolfe, Bonfire of the Vanities author, dies aged 87

Danny Woods
May 16, 2018

Wolfe applied this approach in classic works like The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test where he observed Ken Kesey and his LSD-imbibing Merry Pranksters in the early days of the psychedelic era, and The Right Stuff, a chronicle of the early days of the US space program.

The author had been hospitalised with an infection.

Author Tom Wolfe attends the 2012 Trophee Des Arts Gala at The Plaza Hotel on November 30, 2012 in New York City.

The novel featured Wolfe himself as a subjective participant and is celebrated as one of the seminal examples of what came to be known as New Journalism.

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. He later moved to New York, where he joined the New York Herald Tribune as a reporter in 1962.

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. He went on to have best-selling success with his works of fiction and non-fiction, which also included "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby".

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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.

In 2016, Wolfe told CBS News that he had five more books planned.

His debut novel The Bonfire of the Vanities, published in 1987, was a satirical drama about New Yorkers looking at issues such as ambition, social class, racism and greed.

Another of his works to be made into a film was The Right Stuff, which followed the lives of the first American astronauts and the Mercury space program.

In 1990, it was for the big screen in a movie starring Tom Hanks, Kim Cattrall, Melanie Griffith and Bruce Willis. He laughed about his trademark "feistiness" in the book to CBS News and said, "Well, I just try to bring truth".

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

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