Tom Wolfe, Pyrotechnic Nonfiction Writer and Novelist, Dies at 87

Author Tom Wolfe attends the 2012 Trophee Des Arts Gala at The Plaza Hotel on Nov. 30 2012 in New York City

Tom Wolfe, an innovative journalist and novelist whose Technicolor, wildly punctuated prose brought to life the worlds of California surfers, vehicle customizers, astronauts and Manhattan's moneyed status-seekers in works like "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby", "The Right Stuff" and "Bonfire of the Vanities", died Monday in a New York City hospital. He had been hospitalised with an infection.

The "new journalism" reporter and novelist insisted that the only way to tell a great story was to go out and report it.

A talented baseball player, he also played throughout school and semi-professionally whilst studying in college.

He later left for Washington, then New York, arriving there in 1962 to work for The New York Herald Tribune.

He was a pioneer of the literary technique known as New Journalism, and co-edited the ground-breaking The New Journalism handbook - a collection of essays - in 1973.

Wolfe covered a range of topics in his prose, from Ken Kesey and the Beat Generation in the 1968 nonfiction book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test to Cuban immigrants in Miami in the 2012 novel Back to Blood.

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Wolfe moved to writing novels in the mid-1980s, penning "The Bonfire of the Vanities". "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".

In 1990, it was for the big screen in a movie starring Tom Hanks, Kim Cattrall, Melanie Griffith and Bruce Willis.

From 1965 to 1981, Wolfe produced nine nonfiction books.

Another of his works to be made into a film was The Right Stuff, which followed the lives of the first American astronauts and the Mercury space program.

In addition to his writings, Wolfe was also known for his foppish style and signature white suit, though in older age he swapped out tall collars for polo shirts.

Wolfe is survived by his wife and two children.

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