Journalist and Author Tom Wolfe Dies

ImageTom Wolfe in 1988. He was known for his verbal pyrotechnics in books like “The Right Stuff.”CreditÁngel Franco  The New York Times

ImageTom Wolfe in 1988. He was known for his verbal pyrotechnics in books like “The Right Stuff.”CreditÁngel Franco The New York Times

As a reporter, Wolfe became part of the new journalism movement of the 1960s and 70s, which featured the likes of Truman Capote, Hunter S Thompson and Norman Mailer.

In his reporting, first with The Washington Post, then The New York Herald Tribune, he pioneered a you-are-there, stream-of-consciousness, first-person perspective, which immersed both writer and reader in the narrative. In 1987, Wolfe published "The Bonfire of the Vanities", a novel that also later became a film.

His best-selling book "The Right Stuff" which is about rocket airplane experiments after 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. "They called my brilliant manuscript "journalistic" and 'reactionary, ' which means I must go through with a blue pencil and strike out all the laughs and anti-Red passages and slip in a little liberal merde, so to speak, just to sweeten it".

Wolfe became a major figure in the NY social scene, identified with his distinct personal style - typified by a white, 3-piece suit.

In 2016, Wolfe told CBS News that he had five more books planned. "I never exchanged a cross word with him in our many years of working together".

Trained as a journalist, Wolfe was equally adept at non-fiction and fiction in a career that spanned over half a century. 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.

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