Wolfe, Tom

Wolfe, Tom (Thomas Kennerly Wolfe, Jr.), 1931–2018, American journalist and novelist, b. Richmond, Va., B.A. Washington and Lee Univ., 1951, Ph.D. Yale, 1957. He began his writing career as a newspaper reporter. Wolfe first gained fame for his studies of contemporary American culture in a colorful style that blended regular reporting with novelistic techniques, which came to be known as New Journalism. His journalistic works include The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1965), The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968), Radical Chic and Mau-mauing the Flak Catchers (1970), The Right Stuff (1975, film 1983), From Bauhaus to Our House (1981), the anthology Hooking Up (2000), and The Painted Word (2008). Some the terms Wolfe used or invented has become standard American vocabulary, e.g., “radical chic,” “the right stuff,” and “pushing the envelope.” His The Kingdom of Speech (2016) is a controversial critique of Darwinian evolution and Chomsky's linguistics. He also wrote the novels Bonfire of the Vanities (1987), a satiric look at a New York City torn by race and class; A Man in Full (1998), the saga of an Atlanta millionaire and a comic portrait of the New South; I Am Charlotte Simmons (2004), a glimpse at randy contemporary collegians; and Back to Blood (2012), a tale of ethnic, racial, cultural, and financial conflicts in Miami.

See D. Scura, Conversations with Tom Wolfe (1990); studies by H. Bloom, ed. (2000) and B. A. Ragen (2002).

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