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May 16, 2018 10:10 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Novelist, Journalist Tom Wolfe Dies At 88

May 16, 2018 10:20 AM

Tom Wolfe, one of America’s great writers, died on Monday in New York City. He was 88.

Mr. Wolfe lived in Manhattan since the 1960s, but he spent his summers at his home on South Main Street in Southampton Village.

He was a journalist, and a keen observer of people from all walks of life, and he parlayed those skills into works of both fiction and nonfiction that were celebrated for his distinct writing style. He chronicled the lives of astronauts in the 1979 book “The Right Stuff,” 1960s-era hipster culture in “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” the excesses and extravagance of 1980s-era Wall Street traders in “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” published in 1987, and modern college hook-up culture in his 2004 book “I Am Charlotte Simmons,” among other works.

Mr. Wolfe’s undeniable talent, unique style of writing and recognizable fashion style—he wore three-piece suits, usually white, with accessories to match—never allowed him to blend into a crowd, and by all accounts, he never tried.

Mr. Wolfe was born on March 2, 1930, in Virginia, attended an all-boys private high school there, and graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1951 with an English degree. He earned his Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale six years later, before beginning a career in journalism.

He worked for several newspapers, including the Washington Post, before finding his niche as a city reporter at the New York Herald Tribune in the 1960s, and he wrote for many magazines throughout his career as well, including New York and Esquire. He became known as one of the pioneers of “new journalism,” which used fiction-style writing to bring to life fact-based reporting in a new way.

Mr. Wolfe’s love of observing cultural trends—and his unabashed opinions about them—earned him plenty of enemies in the art and literary world, but even those who criticized his views seemed to acknowledge his talent as a writer.

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

Cailin Riley

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Brilliant man!
By Aeshtron (244), Southampton on May 18, 18 1:27 PM