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Tom Wolfe is a journalist and best-selling author well known as a proponent of the New Journalism, using fiction-writing techniques in journalism.
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Tom Wolfe is a best-selling author and journalist, well known as a proponent of the New Journalism, using fiction-writing techniques in journalism. After earning a doctorate from Yale, Wolfe worked for newspapers before writing best-selling books such as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968) and his 1987 novel about urban greed and corruption, The Bonfire of the Vanities.
"The surest cure for vanity is loneliness."
"A cult is a religion with no political power."
"I never forget. I never forgive. I can wait. I find it very easy to harbor a grudge. I have scores to settle."
Tom Wolfe was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, in a middle-class family. His father, Thomas Kennerly Wolfe Sr., was an agricultural scientist, and his mother, Louise, a landscape designer. Both parents placed a high value on education and encouraged young Tom to pursue his early literary interests while he attended St. Christopher's School in Richmond. Wolfe turned down an offer to attend Princeton University and instead enrolled at Washington and Lee University, graduating in 1951 with a B.A. in English. Briefly, he pursued a career in baseball and even tried out for the New York Giants, but was cut from the team. He then received his Ph.D. in American Studies at Yale University.
After college, Wolfe plunged into a decade-long career as a newspaper reporter, first with the Springfield Union in Massachusetts, and then The Washington Post. There he earned the Washington Newspaper Guild Award for Foreign News Reporting for his coverage of the Cuban Revolution in 1961. Like many ambitious young journalists, Wolfe wanted to test himself in New York. In 1962, he signed on with The New York Herald Tribune and, with reporter Jimmy Breslin, wrote for the paper's Sunday supplement, which later was spun off as New York Magazine.
During the New York newspaper strike of 1962, Tom Wolfe proposed an article on the Southern California hot-rod culture for Esquire magazine. He struggled with the angle and finally sent his editor a letter explaining his ideas, dispensing with traditional journalism conventions and describing the entire scene in a personal voice. The editor was so impressed that he removed the letter's salutation and published it in its entirety. From this, Wolfe developed his own writing style, which became known as "the New Journalism." In this style, writers experimented with a variety of literary techniques, combining journalistic accuracy with a novelist's eye for description.
At this point, Wolfe began transitioning from beat reporter to social commentator. In 1964, he wrote "The Last American Hero," about NASCAR driver Junior Johnson. In this article, he introduced the term "good ol' boy." The technique of creating new catch phrases such as "statusphere," "the right stuff," "radical chic," and "the Me Decade" became a trademark of Wolfe's. In 1965, a collection of Wolfe's articles were published under the title The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby and quickly became a best seller.
In the 1960s, Wolfe traveled the country, recording the social changes in America. Essays appeared regularly in Esquire, New York Magazine and Harper's.
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Like in Gone With the Wind, The Sun Also Rises after Twilight, even in a Pet Cemetary Where the Wild Things Are. But let's not be too morbid and discuss creepy things like The Satanic Verses or try to get an Interview With a Vampire from The Stranger Who Professes 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.' Going round in round like this, you may never know Where the Sidewalk Ends, and that would be unfortunate since Uncle Tom's Cabin is just around the corner...
Okay, we could go on, but we won't torture you. You get the point. Our attempt at creative writing is nothing compared to the imaginative minds of our Famous Fiction Authors Group.
Famous Fiction Authors 412 people in this group