Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

'Bonfire of the Vanities' author Tom Wolfe dead at 88

'Bonfire of the Vanities' author Tom Wolfe dead at 88

Wolfe was a esteemed journalist and non-fiction writer, whose works also included The Right Stuff and Bonfires of the Vanities. The news was announced by Wolfe's long-time agent Lynn Nesbit.

Wolfe was born on March 2, 1930 in Richmond, Virginia, and never sought to rebel against his conservative, white bourgeois upbringing.

In 1973, Wolfe co-edited The New Journalism, an anthology that collected several of his pieces along with work from peers such as Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson, Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, and others.

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His best-selling book The Right Stuff, which is about rocket aeroplane experiments post World War II and the Project Mercury astronauts, won the American Book Award for nonfiction, the National Institute of Arts and Letters Harold Vursell Award for prose style, and the Columbia Journalism Award.

After studying at Washington and Lee University and Yale University, Wolfe began a 10-year-long newspaper reporting career.

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.

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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.

Between 1965 and 1981, Wolfe released nine nonfiction books, including The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. She told The New York Times that he had been hospitalized with an infection.

Wolfe followed with more novels - "A Man in Full" about race, big money and high society in Atlanta; "I Am Charlotte Simmons", a tale of college high life, and "Back to Blood" about immigrants in Florida in 2012. A larger than life character, Wolfe was renowned for his snappy dress style, forever sporting a three-piece white suit and spats (an iconic look he once memorably described as "Neo-pretentious"), along with a penchant for coining iconic phrases - "Radical Chic" and "the Me Decade" became part of the cultural lexicon. He is survived by his wife Sheila and son Tommy.

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