Bonfire of the Vanities author Tom Wolfe dies

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When Yale's American Studies dons rejected his doctoral thesis, he wrote a pal: "These stupid f***s have turned down namely my dissertation". Along with Gay Talese, Truman Capote and Nora Ephron, he helped demonstrate that journalism could offer the kinds of literary pleasure found in books.

He was more genteel in writing for the public, but more devastating - or, when his subjects merited it ("The Right Stuff"), more in awe.

He coined expressions such as "radical chic", for rich liberals fascinated with revolutionaries, and the "me generation", which nailed the self-absorption of 1970s baby boomers.

His agent, Lynn Nesbit confirmed his death. "I never exchanged a cross word with him in our many years of working together". In addition, he wrote the cult classic Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which was printed in 1968. In addition to the aforementioned "Bonfire of the Vanities" and "The Right Stuff" - novels that were later recaptured as Hollywood feature films - he wrote theatrical and entertaining stories for magazines such as Esquire, Harper's, and NY magazine.

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A dapper dresser and NY icon, Wolfe was known for his trademark white suits, homburg hats and white kid gloves.

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.

Whether sending up the NY art world or hanging out with acid heads, Wolfe inevitably presented man as a status-seeking animal, concerned above all about the opinion of one's peers. He admitted he liked the attention they brought him. He was a star pitcher in high school and in college at Washington and Lee and unsuccessfully tried out for the New York Giants.

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

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