Acclaimed author Tom Wolfe, a pioneer of the “New Journalism” literary movement who chronicled everything from hippies to the space race before turning his sharp eye to fiction, died in New York on Monday, according to his literary agent. He was 88.
Wolfe died Monday at hospital in New York City after he was hospitalized with an infection, his agent Lynn Nesbit told The New York Times.
The journalist, who incorporated literary techniques into his nonfiction reports as part of the “New Journalism” movement in the 1960s and 1970s, insisted that the only way to tell a great story was to go out and report it. His writing style included colorful language, multiple exclamation points and italics.
Wolfe was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. He started his career in journalism in 1956, with a reporting job for the Springfield Union in Massachusetts. He moved to New York in 1962, after getting a job with The New York Herald-Tribune.
In 1965, he released his first book, "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby," a series of essays about the flamboyant 1960s written for Esquire and New York magazine. By then, The Washington Post reported, Wolfe was "one of the most famous and influential writers of his generation."
Esquire managing editor Byron Dobell described in a 2015 interview with Vanity Fair what it was like to first read Wolfe's essay on the culture surrounding custom-made cars in California, included in "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby."
“Wherever it came from, it seemed to me to tap a strain of pure American humor that wasn’t being tapped,” Dobell told the magazine. “He didn’t sound like Truman Capote or Lillian Ross … or anyone else.”
He went on to write several critically acclaimed books, both fiction and nonfiction. Among his other works are 1968's "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," 1979's "The Right Stuff" and 2004's "I Am Charlotte Simmons," among others.
He is survived by his wife, Sheila; his daughter, Alexandra and his son, Tommy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.