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'The Bonfire of the Vanities' author Tom Wolfe dies aged 87

15 May 2018

Wolfe was known for his fiction and nonfiction works, like "The Bonfire of the Vanities" and "The Right Stuff". "He was one of the greats and his words will live on forever".

Known as the father of "New Journalism", a form of news writing that employed literary techniques and first-person experience, Wolfe dissected the underbelly of American life, exploring the intricacies of people who frolicked in the perch of power and those who tripped on acid through the counter-culture revolution.

Wolfe became a major figure in the NY social scene, identified with his distinct personal style - typified by a white, 3-piece suit.

In 1973, Wolfe co-edited The New Journalism, an anthology that collected several of his pieces along with work from peers such as Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson, Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, and others.

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His best-selling book The Right Stuff, which is about rocket aeroplane experiments post World War II and the Project Mercury astronauts, won the American Book Award for nonfiction, the National Institute of Arts and Letters Harold Vursell Award for prose style, and the Columbia Journalism Award.

It was made into a Hollywood hit starring Sam Shepard and made the Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier, a household name.

His agent confirmed the news to The New York Times.

Born in Richmond, Virginia in 1931, Wolfe attended Washington and Lee for undergrad and Yale for his Ph.D.

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Over the next decade, he would publish "Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catcher", "The Painted Word" and "The New Journalism".

His first novel, Bonfire of the Vanities, arrived in 1987, skewering the excesses of the money-hungry 1980s.

Wolfe married Sheila Berger, the artistic director of Harper's magazine, in 1978.

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'The Bonfire of the Vanities' author Tom Wolfe dies aged 87