Bonfire of the Vanities author Tom Wolfe has died: US media

Carla Harmon
May 15, 2018

Wolfe became a major figure in the NY social scene, identified with his distinct personal style - typified by a white, 3-piece suit.

Around this time, he began working as a journalist, moving to New York in 1962 for a position at The New York Herald Tribune. His first book, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, arrived in 1965, collecting his early non-fiction essays. While Wolfe was not the only writer to pioneer this new style, he coined the term when, in 1973, he published a collection of articles from the likes of Truman Capote, Hunter S. Thompson and Joan Didion in 1973 under the name 'The New Journalism'.


Wolfe's created lasting catch phrases such as "radical chic" to brand pretentious liberals, the "me decade" to sum up the self-indulgence of the 1970s and the "right stuff" to quantify intangible characteristics of the first US astronauts and their test pilot predecessors.

It was made into a Hollywood hit starring Sam Shepard and made the Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier, a household name. His first novel, Bonfire of the Vanities, arrived in 1987, skewering the excesses of the money-hungry 1980s.


The list went on with "Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers", in 1970, a highly controversial book about racial friction in the United States.

More recently, Wolfe published "I Am Charlotte Simmons" (2004) and "Back to Blood" (2013). He also helped found a literary magazine.


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