Author Tom Wolfe dead at 87

Tom Wolfe, an innovative journalist whose technicolour, wildly punctuated prose brought to life the worlds of California surfers, auto customisers, astronauts and Manhattans moneyed status-seekers in works such as The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, The Right Stuff and Bonfire Of The Vanities, has died.

Wolfe's agent Lynn Nesbit confirmed to the Associated Press that Wolfe died of an infection in a New York City hospital. From 1965 to 1981 Mr. Wolfe produced nine nonfiction books.

With a remarkable ear, an acid pen, and unfailing insight into his subjects, Tom Wolfe created a almost peerless body of work and positioned himself as one of the finest and most influential writers of his time. The Right Stuff, his meticulous account of the test pilots who would become America's first astronauts, runs at a close second. 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. Although his articles and books placed him at the very...

In 1962 he moved to NY and began working in the NY Herald Tribune.

The "new journalism" reporter and novelist insisted that the only way to tell a great story was to go out and report it.

Wolfe's style was not for everyone. Wolfe was so cash-strapped at the time that he kept the suit and wore it during the winter, causing no shortage of double takes in an era when people really didn't wear white after Labor Day. He became particularly influential when he endeavored into what was called New Journalism.

"The right stuff" described the intangible characteristics of the first U.S. astronauts and test pilots.

In the 1980s, Wolfe turned his attention to fiction, and his novel "The Bonfire of the Vanities" (1987) which was originally published as a serial in Rolling Stone, offered a scathing critique of the moral and financial excesses of the 1980s.

Wolfe followed with more novels - "A Man in Full" about race, big money and high society in Atlanta; "I Am Charlotte Simmons", a tale of college high life, and "Back to Blood" about immigrants in Florida in 2012. Wolfe was instantly recognizable in his trademark white suit, which he started wearing nearly year round in 1962. He had two children.

  • Kyle Peterson