Tom Wolfe Dead at 88

Tom Wolfe Dead at 88

Journalist, author, and influencer Tom Wolfe has died following a hospital stay for an infection. He was 88 years old when he passed on Monday.


Wolfe started as a reporter at the Springfield (Massachusetts) Union before moving onto the Washington Post. He moved to New York in 1962 to join the New York Herald-Tribune and remained in the city for the rest of his life.

He was known as a pioneer of a literary style in nonfiction that became known as New Journalism. It was a long-form of writing in which writers deeply immersed themselves in the subject they were writing about. The style relied on rich and detailed description that evoked a more literary style of prose than found in typical non-fiction works.

He became a leader in the field. Wolfe edited a volume of work by himself and other prominent writers of the era, including Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson, Norman Mailer, George Plimpton, titled “The New Journalism.”

By then he had already published a number of ground-breaking books of his own, including “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” in which Wolfe provided a psychedelic chronicle of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters as they experimented with LSD. He went on to write “The Right Stuff” about the Mercury space program.

He then moved onto his first work of fiction, “The Bonfire of the Vanities” a seminal tale of 1980s New York involving a Wall Street banker, a Bronx high school student, and a tabloid reporter. He wrote the work as a series of stories written on deadline every two weeks for Rolling Stone in 1984 and 1985. It was later published in book form in 1987.

Remembrances have flooded the media.

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3 thoughts on “Tom Wolfe Dead at 88

  1. Dude could write. Even his lesser novels stand out well above much of the rest of the field. (Thinking about A Man In Full.) Whatever perspective it was he saw the world from, it was unique and he used very clear eyes to see it from there.

    Living where I do, The Right Stuff is the #2 book right after the amalgamated versions of the Christian Bible, and it remains the #1 movie.

    We’re culturally poorer for his passing.


    • I was just talking to my dad about this on the phone. For a kid like me who grew up wanting to be Chuck Yeager reading the Right Stuff once I was old enough was just amazing. I didn’t realize at the time it was just good parenting, my father using something I was already interested in to backdoor me into reading really good authors like Wolfe. I had posted a tweet about my father giving me some of the books from his library and one of those happened to be the original cover “The Right Stuff” I read as a kid, complete with the funky plastic dust covers they used to do back then. Definitely be getting that one out and sharing with my own children.


  2. My six degrees (or less) of separation story. While in graduate school in NYC had to photograph an architectural element on a building and get a close up of the degradation of the stone. Found a great detail on a building and a classmate and I talked our way into the building to take a close up from inside a third floor room of the element outside. Well the house and office we were in was Tom Wolfe’s. My classmate (NOT ME) unplugged his computer as we leaned out the window to get our picture. Never told a soul…plugged it back in praying he did regular back ups and that we had not wiped out his next novel. Always felt horribly guilty when I would see him out on the street.


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