Author Tom Wolfe dead at 87

Author Tom Wolfe dead at 87

Tom Wolfe, an innovative journalist whose technicolour, wildly punctuated prose brought to life the worlds of California surfers, vehicle 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.

American journalist and author Tom Wolfe passed away in a Manhattan hospital on Monday after seeking treatment for an infection, as confirmed by his agent and reported by the New York Times.

Wolfe began his writing career as a newspaper reporter, first for the Washington Post and then for the New York Herald Tribune.

An acolyte of French novelist Emile Zola and other authors of "realistic" fiction, the stylishly attired Wolfe was an American maverick who insisted that the only way to tell a great story was to go out and report it. "And one ... coming up is on political correctness, which I think is the funniest subject in a long - in a long, long time", Wolfe said.

If you're looking for a glimpse into the mind of Tom Wolfe, look no further than the New York Public Library.

Wolfe famously "invented" New Journalism in the early '60s, when he spent weeks covering hot-rod and custom-car rallies in California for NY magazine. The film version of "The Right Stuff", about the Mercury Seven astronauts, was directed by Philip Kaufman in 1983.

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. John Irving angrily denounced Wolfe by saying, "I can't read him because he's such a bad writer". Wolfe himself dressed for company - his trademark a pale three-piece suit, impossibly high shirt collar, two-tone shoes and a silk tie. He had two children.

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