Author Tom Wolfe Dies at 88, Agent Says

ImageTom Wolfe in 1988. He was known for his verbal pyrotechnics in books like “The Right Stuff.”CreditÁngel Franco  The New York Times

Newsy confirmed through his agent Lynn Nesbit that he was 88.

The author had been hospitalised with an infection.

Film fans might have been puzzled scanning IMDb on Tuesday after the death of Tom Wolfe, the beloved author of nonfiction and fiction best-sellers like "The Right Stuff" and "The Bonfire of the Vanities" that were adapted into memorable Hollywood movies.

Born in Richmond, Virginia in 1931, Wolfe attended Washington and Lee for undergrad and Yale for his Ph.D.

During his several years in Washington, he also experimented with enriching features with fiction techniques.

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The book became a bestseller, and established Wolfe as a leading figure in the "New Journalism" movement, which also included in its ranks Hunter S. Thompson, Norman Mailer and Truman Capote. He first came to wide notice with the 1968 novel The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, an account of counterculture icon Ken Kesey and friends, aka the Merry Pranksters, traveling the country in their painted bus and the adventures they experienced.

At the Tribune, Wolfe developed his voice as a writer, a colorful, inventive style he honed at Esquire, where he began writing in 1963. "Bonfire", a best-seller that was a much-revised version of a serial he wrote for Rolling Stone, portrayed class struggles in New York City against a backdrop of Wall Street ambition, racial stress and yellow journalism.

He once told NPR about his method: "I looked at the whole city first". "I carried a copy of Electric Acid Kool-aid Test with me throughout high school, dazzled by the idea that you could really write like that about real things".

Brian De Palma's 1990 adaptation of "The Bonfire of the Vanities", meanwhile, was a notorious flop - though its 16 percent RottenTomatoes score still tops that of "Almost Heroes". He rose to fame for his essays and bold arguments coupled with exhaustive reporting, peaking with the book The Right Stuff in 1979, which focused on the first American astronauts and the Mercury space program.

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