Tom Wolfe, Bonfire of the Vanities author, dies aged 87


Tom Wolfe, the innovative journalist and author who wrote such best-selling masterpieces as "Bonfire of the Vanities" and "The Right Stuff" has passed away. The New York Times reported that he had been in the hospital after suffering from an infection. Wolfe was known as a pioneer of New Journalism in the 1960s, and later for his successful career as a novelist. As fate would have it, Wolfe graces the cover of our summer issue-in the mail as I type-wherein we have one of the last interviews that he ever gave. His theory of literature, which he preached in print and in person and to anyone who would listen, was that journalism and nonfiction had "wiped out the novel as American literature's main event". As aforementioned, he died in New York City, where he had lived since starting work as a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune in 1962. His 1968 book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, detailing the free-wheeling lifestyle of writer Ken Kesey and his followers known as the Merry Pranksters, is widely considered the finest example of the style.

The book earned Wolfe a nomination for the National Book Award before the first copy of the 1.2 million first-run printing was sold, CNN said.

Despite earning a Ph.D., Wolfe set out on a career in journalism, working as a reporter at the Springfield Union in MA and later at The Washington Post. Along with Gay Talese, Truman Capote and Nora Ephron, he helped demonstrate that journalism could offer the kinds of literary pleasure found in books. They want to tell you things that you don't know.

When Yale's American Studies dons rejected his doctoral thesis, he wrote a pal: "These stupid f***s have turned down namely my dissertation".

Wolfe's best-known work is perhaps bonfire of vanities, which is still considered great novel of NY.

"Saddened to hear of Tom Wolfe's passing".

How Money Got Free author Brian Patrick Eha called Wolfe "a true original", New York Times best-seller Brad Thor praised him as a "magnificent author", and The New Yorker's Susan Orlean recalled how "dazzled" she was by The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. He was 88 years old. He is survived by his wife Sheila and son Tommy.