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Best-selling author Tom Wolfe dies at 88

By
Susan McFarland
Tom Wolfe, author of “The Right Stuff” and “Bonfire of the Vanities,” died Monday in a Manhattan hospital at age 87. Photo by Ezio Petersen/UPI
Tom Wolfe, author of “The Right Stuff” and “Bonfire of the Vanities,” died Monday in a Manhattan hospital at age 87. Photo by Ezio Petersen/UPI | License Photo

May 15 (UPI) -- Tom Wolfe, author of "The Right Stuff" and "Bonfire of the Vanities," died Monday in a Manhattan hospital at age 88.

Wolfe, who lived in New York since 1962, had been hospitalized with an infection, his agent Lynn Nesbit told the New York Times.

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Wolfe began his writing career as a newspaper reporter, first for the Washington Post and then for the New York Herald Tribune.

The nonfiction author and novelist, who wrote a number of best-sellers over a career that spanned decades, was among the writers credited with creating "New Journalism," an American literary movement in the 1960s and 1970s that pushed the limits of traditional journalism and nonfiction writing.

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From his 1968 nonfiction work, "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," which examined the lifestyle of LSD advocate Ken Kesey and his counterculture compatriots, to his 1979 book "The Right Stuff" that focused on the first American astronauts and the Mercury space program, Wolfe's nonfiction books plunged readers into real-life situations that often read like novels.

"The Right Stuff" was adopted into a film in 1983. In 1987, Wolfe published "The Bonfire of the Vanities," a novel that also later became a film.

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In 2016, Wolfe published his last book, "The Kingdom of Speech," which sought to challenge society's understanding of Darwinism.

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Wolfe, known for his signature white suit, was easily recognizable when taking walks in his neighborhood. The icon told CBS News in 2016 he had five more books planned.

"To be honest, I have only five more planned. And one ... coming up is on political correctness, which I think is the funniest subject in a long -- in a long, long time," Wolfe said.

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