'Bonfire of the Vanities' author Tom Wolfe dead at 87

Saul Bowman
May 16, 2018

His agent reportedly declined to comment in further detail about her client's death, however, she did refer reporters to an article in the Wall Street Journal, where she was quoted as saying: "He is not just an American icon, but he had a huge worldwide literary reputation". "He's dignified through and through".

Wolfe was also a style icon, known for wearing a crisp white suit everywhere he went. 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.

Wolfe complained that novelists did not bring enough reality to their books, and while bemoaning the state of American literature, offered himself as an exemplar of what it should be. The book was later adapted into a film with Sam Shepard, Dennis Quaid and Ed Harris in 1983.

In 1951 he graduated from Washington and Lee University, and in 1957 received his PhD in Yelsk University, majoring in American studies. He moved to New York in 1962 to join the New York Herald-Tribune and remained in the city for the rest of his life. In 1987, Wolfe published "The Bonfire of the Vanities", a novel that also later became a film.

"I probably have given that impression in the past, but I didn't", he said.

Wolfe wrote a variety of fiction and nonfiction works over the course of his illustrious career. John Irving angrily denounced Wolfe by saying, "I can't read him because he's such a bad writer". They want to tell you things that you don't know.

Wolfe's other books include The Pump House Gang, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, The Painted Word and Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine, which includes his well-known essay about the Me Decade.

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. Wolfe slammed both Charles Darwin and linguist Noam Chomsky in the book.

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