The Right Stuff Author Tom Wolfe Dies at 88

ImageTom Wolfe in 1988. He was known for his verbal pyrotechnics in books like “The Right Stuff.”CreditÁngel Franco  The New York Times

His death was confirmed by his agent, Lynn Nesbit. He graduated Washington and Lee University, after he'd turned down Princeton University.

Since 1956, Wolfe worked as a reporter in the newspaper the Republican in Springfield, Massachusetts.

He moved to New York in 1962 to join the New York Herald-Tribune and would call the city his home for the rest of his life.

His first book, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, was a collection of essays originally published in Esquire magazine. These titles put him in a class with other great writers whose titles also became films like Truman Capote (1967's In Cold Blood) and Norman Mailer (1958's The Naked and the Dead). Indeed, he became famous for using "novelistic techniques in his nonfiction", a hybrid that became known as the New Journalism. After that, he wrote his books by hand. The film version of "The Right Stuff", about the Mercury Seven astronauts, was directed by Philip Kaufman in 1983. Since childhood, Tom Wolfe dreamed of becoming a writer. A pioneer of America's "New Journalism", he brought a vigorous, slangy yet sceptical eye to the cultural trends of the Sixties. "I'll actually sit in front of the typewriter, close my eyes, and then try to imagine myself into the particular scene that I'm going to write about".

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His first try at fiction was "The Bonfire of the Vanities" in 1987, which captured the cultural feel of free-wheeling Wall Street "masters of the universe" as well as his non-fiction books did.

His second novel "A Man in Full" (1998) which recounts a tale of scheming in Atlanta High Society, was also a commercial success with the reading public.

Wolfe critiqued art critics in The Painted Word in 1975, and the architectural decline in From Bauhaus to Our House in 1981. His last published book was 2016's "The Kingdom of Speech", which challenged society's understanding of Darwinism. He is remembered for his sense of humor and his penchant for needling sacred cows. He is survived by his wife, Sheila, and their two children, Alexandra Wolfe and Tommy Wolfe.

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