Tom Wolfe, the supercalifragilistically stylistic New Journalist and social novelist, died yesterday at age 88. He was a monumental figure not just within the craft but outside of it, in the culture and the language, coining the "Me Decade" to define the '70s, writing the quintessential '60s book in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, depicting the heroic '50s spirit in The Right Stuff, and capturing the awful mid-'80s with The Bonfire of the Vanities.
Wolfe was my gateway drug into Ken Kesey, Hunter S. Thompson, Rolling Stone magazine (back when it was good like that one year!), and the hurly-burly of 1964-1975 cultural and political tumult. It was impossible not to want to get into journalism after reading all those high-wire acts.
Reason, launched as it was in 1968, has grappled with Wolfe often in the years, and will again later this afternoon. A sampling from the archive:
- "Tom Wolfe on 2012 Election: 'I Wrote in Ron Paul'," by Brian Doherty
- "O Seers, Can You Say? Tom Wolfe, Ken Kesey 40 Yrs On; Jack Shafer 25 Yrs Later," by Nick Gillespie
- "You Are Charlotte Simmons," by Kerry Howley
- "Adieu to the Avant-Garde," by Kanchan Limaye
- "Ten Years After," by Robert W. Poole, Jr.
And former Reasoner and current Vice Newser/Fifth Columnist Michael C. Moynihan conducted a wide-ranging interview with Wolfe in 2012: