Tom Wolfe Made Everyone Talk About Him

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Throughout his work, Wolfe's marvelous facility with language created several new phrases, including "radical chic" and "the Me decade".

With his literary flair and habit of placing himself as a character in his nonfiction writing, Wolfe was regarded as one of the pioneers of New Journalism - even helping to shape the current definition of the term with his publication of a 1973 essay collection of the same name, which placed his own writing alongside the likes of Truman Capote, Joan Didion and Hunter S Thompson.

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Wolfe, known for his signature white suit, was easily recognizable when taking walks in his neighborhood. Written in a wild free-association style that disregarded rules of punctuation, it was filled with sentence fragments and used words like "skakkkkkkkkkkkkkk" and "wowwwwwww". 1983's "The Right Stuff", about the early days of the American space program, won critical raves and four Oscars.

His first try at fiction was The Bonfire of the Vanities in 1987, which captured the cultural feel of free-wheeling Wall Street "masters of the universe" as well as his non-fiction books did. It followed the greed, racism and social classes of New York City in the 1980s.

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The period adventure comedy about rivals of explorers Lewis and Clark grossed just $6 million and earned a rare F grade from Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman, who concluded: "It's as bad as any comedy I've seen in the post-'Animal House' era, right down there with the worst of Dan Aykroyd and the scripts Pauly Shore must have turned up his nose at".

"To be honest, I have only five more planned".

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If you're looking for a glimpse into the mind of Tom Wolfe, look no further than the New York Public Library. He admitted he liked the attention they brought him. He was a star pitcher in high school and in college at Washington and Lee and unsuccessfully tried out for the New York Giants. He had two children.