Pioneering journalist Tom Wolfe has died at the age of 88

Jack Robinson  Getty Images

Jack Robinson Getty Images

I've been pleased by the stories of his personal kindness in my Twitter feed since he died on Monday, at age 88 - and a little surprised, given the multifaceted antagonism he enjoyed provoking for half a century.

He coined expressions such as "radical chic", for rich liberals fascinated with revolutionaries, and the "me generation", which nailed the self-absorption of 1970s baby boomers.

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

A pioneer of new journalism, Wolfe wove ornate tapestries through his fervent prosaic style and vivid storytelling techniques. In 1979, he published the book The Right Stuff about the Mercury Seven astronauts.

David Corio  Getty Images
David Corio Getty Images

Among his acclaimed books were The Right Stuff and The Bonfire Of The Vanities, a satire of Manhattan-style power and justice that became one of the best-selling books of the Eighties.

He was never deterred by the fact that he often did not fit in with his research subjects, partly because he was such a sartorial dandy, known for his white suits. The resulting bestseller, The Bonfire Of The Vanities, defined the late-1980s era of Wall Street ambition, power and money.

Tom Wolfe was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1930. "They called my brilliant manuscript "journalistic" and 'reactionary, ' which means I must go through with a blue pencil and strike out all the laughs and anti-Red passages and slip in a little liberal merde, so to speak, just to sweeten it".

Wolfe is survived by his wife and two children.

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