7 Tom Wolfe Best Books Update 05/2022

One of the first people to write “new journalism,” Tom Wolfe, has died in New York at the age of 88. When Wolfe wrote about American life, he used words like “radical chic” and “the me decade” to describe it. Whether he was writing about the power struggle in New York or the cross-country adventures of LSD devotees, he used these words. He started out as a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune in 1962. Over the years, he gained a following for both his fiction and nonfiction. This is a selection of some of the work that has shaped his life.Tom Wolfe was a literary legend of the 20th century and a regular contributor to Esquire. He was a writer who didn’t just write in his trademark suits, though. In New Journalism, he was one of the first people to add novelistic flourishes to nonfiction writing, and he is one of the best American writers who has ever written about the counterculture. 88-year-old Wolfe died in New York City on Tuesday, and he left behind a huge amount of work: longform reporting and essays. Here are five books you should read.

The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby (1965)

The Kandy-KoloredTangerine Flake Streamline Baby is an essay collection and Wolfe’s first book. It shows how a new American aesthetic came to be in the 1960s. Wolfe went to cities across the U.S. and found thriving subcultures that were different from the “elite culture” of the past. He brought bouffant hairstyles, the Twist, and stock car racing to the forefront. In 1963, Esquire ran the title essay, which talked about the “flamboyant kustomized kars” that California teenagers made and owned.

Bonus fact: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. said the book was “a great book by a great person.”

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)

inThe Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, a book about Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, Wolf talks about their drug-filled world. Kesey was once a star athlete, scholar, and all-around Golden Boy. He was an avid user of LSD and led his Merry Pranksters on a wild tour of the United States in the first psychedelic bus, making friends with the Hell’s Angels, disrupting a Unitarian Church meeting, and always avoiding law enforcement. The book is a good example of “New Journalism.”

Wolfe told the Observer in 2008 that he never took LSD while he was following the Merry Pranksters. “I thought about it for about six seconds.”To put Tom Wolfe on the map, this is the book. When author Ken Kesey went on a trip with his followers, the Merry Pranksters, to paint school buses all over the United States, this was the second book in which they went. Along the way, the Pranksters meet the Grateful Dead, the Hells Angels, and Allen Ginsberg, all while taking LSD and becoming more aware. In the New Journalism movement, it’s one of the most important books. It looks at the 1960s counterculture in great detail.

The Right Stuff (1979)

The Right Stuff by Wolfe Tom (1979-01-01) Hardcover: Amazon.com: Books

On a Rolling Stone assignment in the 1970s, Wolfe turned his attention to space exploration. Wolfe had a way of getting to the heart of an American thing, so he turned to space exploration. In his book, The Right Stuff, he talks about the lives of early American astronauts like John Glenn, Alan Shepard, and Gus Grissom, and how they wanted to be the best in the world at space exploration.

This is a bonus fact: The Right Stuff was made into a movie in 1983. Dennis Quaid, Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, and Ed Harris starred. In total, it won four Academy Awards for its sound, film editing, sound effects editing, and music, which was all new and unique.

The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987)

Wolfe was asked a lot why he hadn’t written a novel yet after he had written a lot of successful nonfiction books. He wrote TheBonfire of the Vanities, a satirical story about a young investment banker who thinks he’s “Master of the Universe” and lives on Park Avenue. It was an immediate best-seller. In the book, McCoy is arrested for a hit-and-run in the Bronx that sent a black teen to the hospital, and he isn’t happy about it. The book talks about racial and social tensions, as well as the greed and politics of New York in the 1980s.

Historians call it the Bonfire of the Vanities. The title is a reference to this event and is called that by them. “Sinful objects” like cosmetics and artworks were burned by Florentine public members in 1497. Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola was given these items by Florentine public members to burn. Until the 15th century, there were a lot of “bonfires of the vanities.”

A Man in Full (1998)

Wolfe’s second book, which came out more than a decade after The Bonfire of the Vanities, was also a big hit with the public. People who are black in the United States are shown through the stories of Conrad Hensley, his former boss Charlie Croker, and a prominent black lawyer named Roger White II. All three of these people have problems with racial tensions in their communities.

A bonus fact: Even though the book was nominated for a National Book Award, Norman Mailer said that “Tom may be the most hard-working show-off the literary world has ever had.”

A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe - First Edition - 1998 - from Syber's Books ABN 15 100 960 047 (SKU: 0125801)

Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers (1970)

This is Wolfe’s fourth book, and it has two long pieces in it. The first looks at a party held at composer Leonard Bernstein’s Park Avenue apartment. There, Bernstein and some of New York’s liberal elite met with members of the Black Panther Party. Wolfe criticized “radical chic,” which he called the fashion of liberal outrage that hides liberal ignorance and inaction.

The Painted Word (1975)

Wolfe’s 1970 book collection shows not only how good he is as a writer, but also how well-known and important he is. Imagine if someone else tried to write a mainstream book about art criticism. Wolfe’s attempt may have caused more trouble in the art world than earned him any credibility as an art critic, but there’s something to be said for a writer willing to fall on his sword in order to get people talking about art. The essays mostly attack popular modern artists of the time.

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