Published: Wed, May 16, 2018

Tom Wolfe, pyrotechnic nonfiction writer and novelist, dies at 87

Tom Wolfe, pyrotechnic nonfiction writer and novelist, dies at 87

Wolfe won the Bad Sex in Fiction prize in 2004 for I Am Charlotte Simmons and was also shortlisted in 2012 for Back to Blood.

The Right Stuff (1979), an oral history of the American space programme, is a model of recent historical writing that remains the basis for all future attempts at the story.

In addition, he wrote the cult classic Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which was printed in 1968. Although his articles and books placed him at the very...

In 1962 he moved to NY and began working in the NY Herald Tribune. Wolfe was associated with other New Journalism writers like Hunter S. Thompson, Joan Didion and Truman Capote.

One of the genre's defining moments came when Wolfe was having trouble meeting a deadline for a 1964 magazine story on the hot-rod auto culture.

Wolfe was born March 2, 1931 in the family of the scientist-agronomist and a first-year student of the medical faculty. Written in a wild free-association style that disregarded rules of punctuation, it was filled with sentence fragments and used words like "skakkkkkkkkkkkkkk" and "wowwwwwww".


Wolfe never converted to writing on a computer. He was a pioneer who helped to shape the New Journalism movement, centered on vivid prose and up-close engagement that eschewed the precepts of journalistic objectivity and distance.

Wolfe became fascinated with astronauts after Rolling Stone magazine assigned him to cover an Apollo program launch in 1972.

At the same time, Wolfe continued to turn out a stream of essays and magazine pieces for New York, Harper's and Esquire.

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.

After his death was announced, an outpouring of tributes came from American journalists.

Wolfe had many detractors - including fellow writers Norman Mailer and John Updike and the critic James Wood, who panned Wolfe's "big subjects, big people, and yards of flapping exaggeration".

Like this: