Pioneering US author Tom Wolfe dies

16 May, 2018, 08:04 | Author: Julio Duncan
  • Tom Wolfe at home in New York in 2016

In 1979, he penned "The Right Stuff", which documented the 15-year span of America's first space program and highlighted Mercury astronauts, including John Glenn and Alan Shepard. "The question is not only whether Tom Wolfe can be taken seriously but whether he can be taken at all", a Time magazine critic wrote in 1968. It was also manhandled in the critical press, with London-based Literary Review awarding Wolfe with its 2004 Bad Sex in Fiction Award, which recognizes bad sex scenes in literature.

He moved to New York in 1962 to join the New York Herald-Tribune and would call the city his home for the rest of his life.

With a remarkable ear, an acid pen, and unfailing insight into his subjects, Tom Wolfe created a almost peerless body of work and positioned himself as one of the finest and most influential writers of his time. These, too, were part of Wolfe's style.

He was a trailblazer in the hard-living, neon-lit prose that came to be known as "New Journalism" alongside his contemporaries, including Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson, George Plimpton, Norman Mailer and Truman Capote. Nine years later and in a more restrained style than some of his earlier works, he wrote "The Right Stuff" about the first seven US astronauts and test pilot Chuck Yeager who came before them.


Wolfe followed with "I Am Charlotte Simmons" which recounts the tale of an ambitious girl from a family of modest means in the rural south as she navigates the social and academic world of an elite East Coast university. Since childhood, Tom Wolfe dreamed of becoming a writer. He admitted he liked the attention they brought him.

Born in Virginia in 1930, Wolfe achieved national prominence covering the rise of hippie culture in a freeform, hyperbolic style free of dispassionate journalistic conventions that would become known as New Journalism.

Wolfe lived in NY with his wife, Sheila.

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