Tom Wolfe, among America’s greatest authors and journalists, died this week at the age of 88. Wolfe was a major figure in New Journalism, which delivers journalistic research in a more literary style of writing. If you’ve not been introduced to the work of Tom Wolfe peruse the following reading list.
"The Kingdom of Speech," by Tom Wolfe
The maestro storyteller and reporter provocatively argues that what we think we know about speech and human evolution is wrong.
"The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," by Tom Wolfe
Long considered one of the greatest books about the history of the hippies, Wolfe's ability to research like a reporter and simultaneously evoke the hallucinogenic indulgence of the era ensures that this book, written in 1967, will live long in the counter-culture canon of American literature.
"The Bonfire of the Vanities," by Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe's modern American satire tells the story of Sherman McCoy, a Wall Street "Master of the Universe" who has it all - a Park Avenue apartment, a job that brings wealth, power and prestige, a beautiful wife, an even more beautiful mistress.
"I am Charlotte Simmons," by Tom Wolfe
Our story unfolds at fictional Dupont University: those Olympian halls of scholarship housing the cream of America's youth, the roseate Gothic spires and manicured lawns suffused with tradition . . . Or so it appears to beautiful, brilliant Charlotte Simmons, a sheltered freshman from North Carolina. But Charlotte soon learns, to her mounting dismay, that for the upper-crust coeds of Dupont, sex, cool, and kegs trump academic achievement every time.
"Back to Blood," by Tom Wolfe
As a police launch speeds across Miami's Biscayne Bay - with officer Nestor Camacho on board - Tom Wolfe is off and running. Into the feverous landscape of the city, he introduces the Cuban mayor, the black police chief, a wanna-go-muckraking young journalist and his Yale-marinated editor; an Anglo sex-addiction psychiatrist and his Latina nurse by day, loin lock by night - until lately, the love of Nestor's life; a refined, and oh-so-light-skinned young woman from Haiti and her Creole-spouting, black-gang-banger-stylin' little brother; a billionaire porn addict, crack dealers in the 'hoods, "de-skilled" conceptual artists at the Miami Art Basel Fair, "spectators" at the annual Biscayne Bay regatta looking only for that night's orgy, yenta-heavy ex-New Yorkers at an "Active Adult" condo, and a nest of shady Russians.
"The Painted Word," by Tom Wolfe
Wolfe's style has never been more dazzling, his wit never more keen. He addresses the scope of Modern Art, from its founding days as Abstract Expressionism through its transformations to Pop, Op, Minimal, and Conceptual. This is Tom Wolfe "at his most clever, amusing, and irreverent" (San Francisco Chronicle).
"A Man in Full: A Novel," by Tom Wolfe
The setting is Atlanta, Georgia — a racially mixed, late-century boomtown full of fresh wealth and wily politicians. The protagonist is Charles Croker, once a college football star, now a late-middle-aged Atlanta conglomerate king whose outsize ego has at last hit up against reality. Charlie has a 29,000 acre quail-shooting plantation, a young and demanding second wife, and a half-empty office complex with a staggering load of debt.
"The Right Stuff," by Tom Wolfe
The men had it. Yeager. Conrad. Grissom. Glenn. Heroes ... the first Americans in space ... battling the Russians for control of the heavens ... putting their lives on the line.
The women had it. While Mr. Wonderful was aloft, it tore your heart out that the Hero's Wife, down on the ground, had to perform with the whole world watching ... the TV Press Conference: "What's in your heart? Do you feel with him while he's in orbit?"
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