Tom Wolfe (March 02, 1930 - May 14, 2018)
Born: 2nd March, 1930
Died: 14th May, 2018
Nationality: American
Profession/Occupation: Journalist
Region: Richmond, Virginia, New York City, New York
Notable works: "Back to Blood", "A Man in Full", "I Am Charlotte Simmons", "From Bauhaus to Our House", "The Painted Word", "The Bonfire of the Vanities", "My Three Stooges", "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test", "The Right Stuff", "The Kingdom of Speech"

Tom Wolfe Facts

Biography

Tom Wolfe, in full Thomas Kennerly Wolfe, Jr., (born March 2, 1930, Richmond, Virginia, U.S.--died May 14, 2018, New York, New York), American novelist, journalist, and social commentator who was a leading critic of contemporary life and a proponent of New Journalism (the application of fiction-writing techniques to journalism).

After studying at Washington and Lee University (B.A., 1951), Wolfe, a talented baseball pitcher, tried out with the New York Giants but did not make the team. He then attended Yale University (Ph.D., 1957) and subsequently wrote for several newspapers, including the Springfield Union in Massachusetts and The Washington Post. In the early 1960s he moved to New York City and soon was contributing to various publications, notably the magazines New York, Esquire, and Harper's. Around this time Wolfe adopted his trademark attire: a three-piece white suit and a high-collared silk shirt.

Wolfe's first book, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1964), is a collection of essays satirizing American trends and celebrities of the 1960s. That work--especially the title piece about car customizers, which was reported to have been a lengthy memo to his editor at Esquire--helped give rise to New Journalism. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968) became a classic of 1960s counterculture. It recounts the adventures of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, who were known for using psychedelic drugs, especially LSD. Wolfe's other nonfiction works included Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers (1970), The Painted Word (1975), From Bauhaus to Our House (1981), and The Worship of Art: Notes on the New God (1984). The Right Stuff (1979; film 1983), which examines aspects of the first U.S. astronaut program, earned critical praise and was a best seller.

Motivated by a desire to revive social realism in literature--as he expressed in a much-discussed manifesto published in Harper's in 1989--Wolfe turned to fiction. His first two novels were The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987; film 1990), a sprawling novel about urban greed and corruption, and A Man in Full (1998), a colourful panoramic depiction of contemporary Atlanta. Wolfe's Hooking Up (2000) is a collection of fiction and essays, all previously published except for "My Three Stooges," a scandalous diatribe about John Updike, Norman Mailer, and John Irving, who had all been critical of A Man in Full.

Wolfe's third novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons (2004), examines modern-day student life at fictional Dupont University through the eyes of small-town protagonist Charlotte Simmons. Back to Blood (2012) investigates (and pokes fun at) the complexities of race relations in Miami. Wolfe returned to nonfiction with The Kingdom of Speech (2016), in which he sharply criticized Charles Darwin and Noam Chomsky as he argued that language was not a result of evolution.

In 2010 Wolfe was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation.

Top 85 Tom Wolfe quotes

At the outset, at least, all three groups had something else to recommend them, as well: They were headquartered 3,000 miles away from the East Side of Manhattan.
Away
East
East side
Else
Groups
Had
Least
Manhattan
Miles
Outset
Recommend
Side
Something
Something else
A cult is a religion with no political power.
Cult
Political
Political power
Power
Religion
The attitude is we live and let live. This is actually an amazing change in values in a rather short time and it's an example of freedom from religion.
Actually
Amazing
Attitude
Change
Example
Freedom
Freedom from
Live
Rather
Religion
Short
Short time
Time
Values
The surest cure for vanity is loneliness.
Cure
Loneliness
Surest
Vanity
We are always acting on what has just finished happening. It happened at least 1/30th of a second ago. We think we're in the present, but we aren't. The present we know is only a movie of the past.
Acting
Always
Finished
Happened
Happening
Just
Know
Least
Movie
Only
Past
Present
Second
Think
The notion that the public accepts or rejects anything in modern art is merely romantic fiction. The game is completed and the trophies distributed long before the public knows what has happened.
Accepts
Anything
Art
Before
Completed
Distributed
Fiction
Game
Happened
Knows
Long
Merely
Modern
Modern art
There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.
Act
Appealing
Beautiful
Beautiful woman
Cooking
Dinner
Earth
Loves
More
She
Someone
Spectacle
Than
Woman
It is very comforting to believe that leaders who do terrible things are, in fact, mad. That way, all we have to do is make sure we don't put psychotics in high places and we've got the problem solved.
Believe
Comforting
Fact
Got
High
High places
In fact
Leaders
Mad
Make
Places
Problem
Put
Solved
This is the artist, then, life's hungry man, the glutton of eternity, beauty's miser, glory's slave.
Artist
Beauty
Eternity
Glory
Hungry
Life
Man
Miser
Slave
Then
There are some people who have the quality of richness and joy in them and they communicate it to everything they touch. It is first of all a physical quality; then it is a quality of the spirit.
Communicate
Everything
First
First of all
Joy
People
Physical
Quality
Richness
Some
Some people
Spirit
Them
Then
There has been a time on earth when poets had been young and dead and famous - and were men. But now the poet as the tragic child of grandeur and destiny had changed. The child of genius was a woman, now, and the man was gone.
Been
Changed
Child
Dead
Destiny
Earth
Genius
Gone
Grandeur
Had
Has-been
Man
Men
Now
We are now in the Me Decade - seeing the upward roll of the third great religious wave in American history.
American
American history
Decade
Great
History
Me
Now
Religious
Roll
Seeing
Third
Upward
Wave
On Wall Street he and a few others - how many? three hundred, four hundred, five hundred? had become precisely that... Masters of the Universe.
Become
Few
Five
Four
Had
He
How
Hundred
Many
Masters
Others
Precisely
Street
Three
Love is the ultimate expression of the will to live.
Expression
Live
Love
Love is
Ultimate
Will
The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.
Being
Belief
Central
Conviction
Curious
Existence
Fact
Far
Few
Human
Human existence
Inevitable
Life
Loneliness
If a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who's been arrested.
Arrested
Been
Conservative
Liberal
Mugged
Frankly, these days, without a theory to go with it, I can't see a painting.
Days
Frankly
Go
Painting
See
Theory
Without
Radical Chic, after all, is only radical in Style; in its heart it is part of Society and its traditions.
After
Chic
Heart
Only
Part
Radical
Society
Style
Traditions
You never realise how much of your background is sewn into the lining of your clothes.
Background
Clothes
How
How much
Lining
Much
Never
Realise
You
Your
I still believe nonfiction is the most important literature to come out of the second half of the 20th century.
Believe
Century
Come
Half
Important
Literature
Most
Nonfiction
Out
Second
Still
The most important
Nonfiction is never going to die.
Die
Going
Never
Nonfiction
I don't think journalists should talk about whom they're voting for.
About
Journalists
Should
Talk
Think
Voting
Whom
Not long after I published my first book, I quickly found I was terrible at being interviewed.
After
Being
Book
First
Found
Long
Published
Quickly
Terrible
The newspaper is, in fact, very bad for one's prose style. That's why I gravitated towards feature stories where you get a little more leeway in the writing style.
Bad
Fact
Feature
Get
In fact
Little
More
Newspaper
Prose
Stories
Style
Towards
Very
Where
I wrote a number of pieces in the year 1966 that were so bad that, although I'm a great collector of my own pieces, I have never collected them.
Although
Bad
Collected
Collector
Great
My own
Never
Number
Own
Pieces
Them
Were
Wrote
Year
I'm a great believer in outlines.
Believer
Great
Great believer
Outlines
I've never met an American who wanted to build an empire.
American
Build
Empire
Met
Never
Wanted
Who
I never forget. I never forgive. I can wait. I find it very easy to harbor a grudge. I have scores to settle.
Easy
Find
Forget
Forgive
Grudge
Harbor
I can
Never
Never forget
Scores
Settle
Very
Wait
My entire career, in fiction or nonfiction, I have reported and written about people who are not like me.
About
Career
Entire
Entire career
Fiction
Like
Me
Nonfiction
People
Reported
Who
Written
I do novels a bit backward. I look for a situation, a milieu first, and then I wait to see who walks into it.
Backward
Bit
First
Look
Novels
See
Situation
Then
Wait
Walks
Who
Television reporters aren't really called reporters. They are called researchers. And that's really all they are.
Really
Reporters
Researchers
Television
God, newspapers have been making up stories forever. This kind of trifling and fooling around is not a function of the New Journalism.
Around
Been
Fooling
Forever
Function
God
Journalism
Kind
Making
Making up
New
Newspapers
Stories
Trifling
Most people don't read editorial pages. I think I must have been 40 before I even looked at an editorial page.
Been
Before
Editorial
Even
I think
Looked
Most
Must
Page
Pages
People
Read
Think
That's mostly what the Internet is, just passing the time. But unfortunately you are dealing with words that can have meaning.
Dealing
Internet
Just
Meaning
Mostly
Passing
Time
Unfortunately
Words
You
There was a time in the 1930s when magazine writers could actually make a good living. 'The Saturday Evening Post' and 'Collier's' both had three stories in each issue. These were usually entertaining, and people really went for them. But then television came along, and now of course, information technology... the new way of killing time.
Actually
Along
Both
Came
Could
Course
Each
Entertaining
Evening
Good
Good living
Had
Information
Information technology
People complain about my exclamation points, but I honestly think that's the way people think. I don't think people think in essays; it's one exclamation point to another.
About
Another
Complain
Essays
Exclamation
Honestly
People
Point
Points
Think
Way
I have never knowingly, I swear to God, written satire. The word connotes exaggeration of the foibles of mankind. To me, mankind just has foibles. You don't have to push it!
Exaggeration
God
Just
Knowingly
Mankind
Me
Never
Push
Satire
Swear
Word
Written
You
My father was the editor of an agricultural magazine called 'The Southern Planter.' He didn't think of himself as a writer. He was a scientist, an agronomist, but I thought of him as a writer because I'd seen him working at his desk. I just assumed that I was going to do that, that I was going to be a writer.
Agricultural
Assumed
Because
Desk
Editor
Father
Going
He
Him
Himself
His
Just
Magazine
Planter
The first newspaper I worked on was the 'Springfield Union' in Springfield, Massachusetts. I wrote over a hundred letters to newspapers asking for work and got three responses, two no's.
Asking
First
Got
Hundred
Letters
Massachusetts
Newspaper
Newspapers
Over
Responses
Three
Two
Union
Work
Working on newspapers, you're writing to a certain length, often very brief pieces; you tend to look for easy forms of humor - women can't drive, things like that. That's about the level of a lot of newspaper humor. It becomes a form of laziness.
About
Becomes
Brief
Certain
Drive
Easy
Form
Forms
Humor
Laziness
Length
Level
Like
Look
By the time I received my doctorate in American studies in 1957, I was in the twisted grip of a disease of our times in which the sufferer experiences an overwhelming urge to join the 'real world.' So I started working for newspapers.
American
By the time
Disease
Doctorate
Experiences
Grip
Join
Newspapers
Our
Overwhelming
Real
Real world
Received
Started
I found a great many pieces of punctuation and typography lying around dormant when I came along - and I must say I had a good time using them.
Along
Around
Came
Found
Good
Good time
Great
Had
I came
Lying
Many
Must
Pieces
Punctuation
I used to enjoy using dots where they would be least expected, not at the end of a sentence but in the middle, creating the effect... of a skipped beat. It seemed to me the mind reacted - first!... in dots, dashes, and exclamation points, then rationalized, drew up a brief, with periods.
Beat
Brief
Creating
Dots
Drew
Effect
End
Enjoy
Exclamation
Expected
First
Least
Me
Middle
Even hostile parodies admit from the start that the target has a distinct voice.
Admit
Distinct
Even
Hostile
Start
Target
Voice
The 'New York Honk,' as it was called, was the most fashionable accent an American male could have at that time, namely, the spring of 1963. One achieved it by forcing all words out through the nostrils rather than the mouth. It was at once virile... and utterly affected. Nelson Rockefeller had a New York Honk.
Accent
Achieved
Affected
American
Could
Fashionable
Forcing
Had
Male
Most
Mouth
Namely
Nelson
New
Nerds... the 'nerd' has never been precisely defined, thanks to the psychological complexity of the creature. The word has connotations of some level of intelligence. The typical nerd is a male with intelligence but no sense of giving it a manly face.
Been
Complexity
Creature
Defined
Face
Giving
Intelligence
Level
Male
Manly
Nerd
Nerds
Never
No sense
If I had my choice, I would be writing by typewriter. I worked on newspapers for 10 years. I typed with the touch system, and unfortunately, you can't keep typewriters going today. You have to take the ribbons back to be re-inked. You have to - it's a horrible search to try to find missing parts. So I went to the computer.
Back
Choice
Computer
Find
Going
Had
Horrible
Keep
Missing
Newspapers
Parts
System
Take
Today
I had always looked down on sociology as this arriviste discipline. It didn't have the noble history of English and history as a subject. But once I had a little exposure to it, I said, 'Hey, here's the key. Here's the key to understanding life and all its forms.'
Always
Down
English
Exposure
Forms
Had
Here
Hey
History
Key
Life
Little
Looked
Noble
Driving a stock car does not require much handling ability, at least not as compared to Grand Prix racing, because the tracks are simple banked ovals and there is almost no shifting of gears. So, qualifying becomes a test of raw nerve - of how fast a man is willing to take a curve.
Ability
Almost
Because
Becomes
Car
Compared
Curve
Does
Driving
Fast
Gears
Grand
Grand prix
Handling
Philip Roth is a fabulous writer, but he pretty much stays within his own life. He's so good - I mean, practically anything I've ever read of his I've really enjoyed. He just has tremendous talent. But I think he should have given himself a break and gone deeper into the society.
Anything
Break
Deeper
Enjoyed
Ever
Fabulous
Given
Gone
Good
He
Himself
His
I think
Just

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