The great writer. He was 88 and lead an amazing life. The book that most sticks with me (and I rarely read novels) is The Bonfire of the Vanities (not the movie version!) and it's description of the NY social and financial scene in the 1980's. Great writing - it is a timeless classic. I remember who recommended it to me (Lou Ferraguzzi, my late partner) and who I recommended it to (My Dad, who I thought would hate it, but loved it).
Wolfe always wore a white suit - which meant he must of had horrendous dry cleaning bills ...
"social x-rays" and "lemon tarts".
Here are excerpts from the Wall Street Journal -
Tom Wolfe, Author of ‘Bonfire of the Vanities’ and Best-selling Creator of New Journalism, Dies at 88 The author’s scalding humor and creative language introduced expressions such as ‘Radical Chic’ into the lexicon
Tom Wolfe, the best-selling alchemist of fiction and nonfiction who wrote “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” “The Right Stuff” and countless other novels and works of journalism, died of pneumonia in a New York hospital Monday, said his longtime agent Lynn Nesbit. He was 88 years old.
Mr. Wolfe was a creator of New Journalism, a bracing watershed in immersive reporting and visceral writing that removed the authorial distance and plunged readers into subcultures including the psychedelic enthusiasts in his 1968 work, “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.” With “The Right Stuff,” Mr. Wolfe wrote a generation-defining narrative documenting the early years of America’s space program.
In “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” he cast a scorching lens on the mores of New York City’s philanthropists during the flush years of the 1980s. A number of years later, his novel “A Man in Full” examined race relations and swashbuckling property developers in the South.
Mr. Wolfe’s scalding humor and creative language introduced into the lexicon expressions such as “Radical Chic” (when describing Leonard Bernstein mingling with activists in his Manhattan apartment) and “social x-ray” (a term for the Upper East Side hostesses whose anorexic frames masked social ambitions executed with Samson-level strength).
In his fiction, he employed liberal use of onomatopoeia, particularly expressions he made up to capture conversation and sounds. A line in “Bonfire” reads: “They go, “Hehhehheh . . . unnnnhhhh-hunhhh.” No telling detail, of physiognomy or dress, escaped Mr. Wolfe’s unsparing eye. In the same novel, he described one character: “His hair was combed back smoothly over his round skull. He wore an immaculate navy suit, a white shirt, a shepherd’s check necktie, and no raincoat.”
“He is not just an American icon, but he had a huge international literary reputation,” said Ms. Nesbit. “All the same, he was one of the most modest and kindest people I have ever met. I never exchanged a cross word with him in our many years of working together.”
Alexandra Wolfe, his daughter, on Tuesday recalled an event at the New York Public Library where her father and other speakers were asked to describe themselves in seven words. “Two of the words he chose were ‘ace’ ‘dad,’ and I couldn’t agree with him more,” said Ms. Wolfe, a 37-year-old writer for The Wall Street Journal.
In the 2016 interview with her father about his latest work, a treatise on language titled “The Kingdom of Speech,” Ms. Wolfe recalled her father flying home from Boston University, where he had received an honorary degree. Instead of removing his ceremonial gown, the author opted to wear it during the flight, prompting another passenger to ask, “Who are you, a priest?” Mr. Wolfe replied: “No, I’m the pope.”
At the time of his death, Mr. Wolfe was collecting notes on his next book. “He never takes vacations, he never stops working,” Ms. Wolfe said Tuesday.