Died the founder of "new journalism" of Tom Wolfe

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

As Wolfe helped define it, the "new journalism" combined the emotional impact of a novel, the analysis of the best essays, and the factual foundation of hard reporting.

He was born in Virginia, the grandson of a Confederate soldier, and attended William and Lee University.

When writing, to get it right, Wolfe said he first did extensive research, then he made an exhaustive outline - and then he started "having fun".

As a dresser, he favored white suits - or cream, or ivory, or even, occasionally, ecru. The film version of "The Right Stuff", about the Mercury Seven astronauts, was directed by Philip Kaufman in 1983.

But Wolfe also united the belts by freely importing moves and punches from one discipline into the others.

The New York Times reported that he had been taken to the hospital with an infection before his passing.

The book was the first example of what Wolfe described as "New Journalism".


"He knows everything", novelist Kurt Vonnegut once wrote of Wolfe.

His contributions to American literature were varied and very influential in the '60s and '70s when he wrote "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test", "Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers", "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby".

Wolfe never converted to writing on a computer.

"His work changed my life and convinced me to write nonfiction", bestselling writer Susan Orlean wrote of Wolfe in a Twitter post on Tuesday.

"My contention is that status is on everybody's mind all of the time, whether they're conscious of it or not", Wolfe, who lived in a 12-room apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side, told the AP in 2012. Nine years later and in a more restrained style than some of his earlier works, he wrote "The Right Stuff" about the first seven USA astronauts and test pilot Chuck Yeager who came before them.

In the 1980s, Wolfe turned his attention to fiction, and his novel "The Bonfire of the Vanities" (1987) which was originally published as a serial in Rolling Stone, offered a scathing critique of the moral and financial excesses of the 1980s.

Wolfe is survived by Sheila Wolfe, his wife of almost 40 years; a son, Tommy Wolfe, and a daughter, Alexandra Wolfe.

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