Tom Wolfe, the white-suited wizard of "New Journalism" who exuberantly chronicled American culture from the Merry Pranksters through the space race before turning his satirical wit to such novels as "The Bonfire of the Vanities" and "A Man in Full," has died. He was 88.
Wolfe's literary agent, Lynn Nesbit, told The Associated Press that he died of an infection Monday in a New York City hospital. Further details were not immediately available.
An acolyte of French novelist Emile Zola and other authors of "realistic" fiction, the stylishly-attired Wolfe was an American maverick who insisted that the only way to tell a great story was to go out and report it. Along with Gay Talese, Truman Capote and Nora Ephron, he helped demonstrate that journalism could offer the kinds of literary pleasure found in books.
His hyperbolic, stylized writing work was a gleeful fusillade of exclamation points, italics and improbable words. An ingenious phrase maker, he helped brand such expressions as "radical chic" for rich liberals' fascination with revolutionaries; and the "Me" generation, defining the self-absorbed baby boomers of the 1970s.
His fans included millions of book-buyers, literary critics and fellow authors.
With files from the Associated Press.
Richard Kallan, professor of communication and chair of the Communication Studies Department at Cal Poly Pomona