Journalist and Author Tom Wolfe Dies

She talked to the author about New Journalism fifty years after The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, his now-classic 1968 book chronicling a LSD-powered bus trip with Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters.

Reports suggest he was battling an infection and pneumonia in hospital when he died.

The book was the first example of what Wolfe described as "New Journalism".

Wolfe was instantly recognizable in his trademark white suit, which he started wearing nearly year round in 1962.

Wolfe continuously strove to break down both journalistic and literary "rules", eschewing what he considered the stiffness of the generation that preceded him. 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. He had lived in New York since joining The New York Herald Tribune as a reporter in 1962.

From 1965 to 1981, Wolfe produced nine nonfiction books. He went on to have best-selling success with his works of fiction and non-fiction, which also included "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby".

He was famend for his sharp apparel – at all times carrying white fits Getty – Contributor
He was famend for his sharp apparel – at all times carrying white fits Getty – Contributor

"His work changed my life and convinced me to write nonfiction", bestselling writer Susan Orlean wrote of Wolfe in a Twitter post on Tuesday.

At the same time, Wolfe continued to turn out a stream of essays and magazine pieces for New York, Harper's and Esquire.

Wolfe critiqued art critics in The Painted Word in 1975, and the architectural decline in From Bauhaus to Our House in 1981.

The Right Stuff, Wolfe's 1979 account of the early days of the US space program and the test pilots recruited for it, remains his best-selling work. It's part of what made his books catnip for Hollywood producers; four of them, including The Last American Hero, The Right Stuff, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and Almost Heroes, were turned into major films.

Wolfe lived in NY with his wife, Sheila.

  • Tracy Klein