Novelist Tom Wolfe (Deborah Feingold/Corbis via Getty Images)

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Tom Wolfe, Best-Selling Author and Innovative Journalist, Dies at 88

He wrote “The Right Stuff” and “Bonfire of the Vanities.”

Tom Wolfe, innovative journalist and best-selling author of The Right Stuff and Bonfire of the Vanities, died Monday in a Manhattan hospital. He was 88. His death was confirmed by his agent, Lynn Nesbit.

Wolfe, who has lived in New York since joining The New York Herald Tribune in 1962, helped create the enormously influential hybrid known as New Journalism. He was also incredibly well-known for his attire as his satire. He was instantly recognizable, almost always wearing a three-piece bespoke suit, pinstriped silk shirt with a starched collar, a bright handkerchief in his breast pocket, and white shoes. Once asked to describe his get-up, Mr. Wolfe replied brightly, “Neo-pretentious,” according to The New York Times. 

William F. Buckley Jr., writing in National Review, once said of Wolfe: “He is probably the most skillful writer in America — I mean by that he can do more things with words than anyone else.”

Between 1965 and 1981, Wolfe wrote nine nonfiction books. He also produced a stream of essays and magazine pieces for New York, Harper’s and Esquire. 

“There is this about Tom,” Mr. Dobell, Mr. Wolfe’s editor at Esquire, told the London newspaper The Independent in 1998, according to The Times. “He has this unique gift of language that sets him apart as Tom Wolfe. It is full of hyperbole; it is brilliant; it is funny, and he has a wonderful ear for how people look and feel.”

Read the full story at The New York Times