Skip to comments.Tom Wolfe, Innovative Nonfiction Writer and Novelist, Dies at 88
Posted on 05/15/2018 8:46:57 AM PDT by NohSpinZone
Tom Wolfe, an innovative journalist and novelist whose technicolor, wildly punctuated prose brought to life the worlds of California surfers, car customizers, astronauts and Manhattans moneyed status-seekers in works like The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, The Right Stuff and Bonfire of the Vanities, died on Monday in a Manhattan hospital. He was 88.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Still upset at whoever directed Bonfire for butchering that novel.
by Tom Wolfe
Going downtown to mau-mau the bureaucrats got to be the routine practice in San Francisco. The poverty program encouraged you to go in for mau-mauing. They wouldn't have known what to do without it. The bureaucrats at City Hall and in the Office of Economic Opportunity talked "ghetto" all the time, but they didn't known any more about what was going on in the Western Addition, Hunters Point, Potrero Hill, the Mission, Chinatown, or south of Market Street than they did about Zanzibar. They didn't know where to look. They didn't even know who to ask. So what could they do? Well ... they used the Ethnic Catering Service ... right ... They sat back and waited for you to come rolling in with your certified angry militants, your guaranteed frustrated ghetto youth, looking like a bunch of wild men. Then you had your test confrontation. If you were outrageous enough, if you could shake up the bureaucrats so bad that their eyes froze into iceballs and their mouths twisted up into smiles of sheer physical panic, into shit-eating grins, so to speak--then they knew you were the real goods. They knew you were the right studs to give the poverty grants and community organizing jobs to. Otherwise they wouldn't know.
There was one genius in the art of confrontation who had mau-mauing down to what you could term a laboratory science. He had it figured out so he didn't even have to bring his boys downtown in person. He would just show up with a crocus sack full of revolvers, ice picks, fish knives, switchblades, hatchets, blackjacks, gravity knives, straight razors, hand grenades, blow guns, bazookas, Molotov cocktails, tank rippers, unbelievable stuff, and he'd dump it all out on somebody's shiny walnut conference table. He'd say "These are some of the things I took off my boys last night ... I don't know, man ... Thirty minutes ago I talked a Panther out of busting up a cop ..." And they would lay money on this man's ghetto youth patrol like it was now or never ... The Ethnic Catering Service, the bureaucrats felt like it was all real. They'd say to themselves, "We've given jobs to a hundred of the toughest hard-core youth in Hunters Point. The problem is on the way to being solved." They never inquired if the bloods they were giving the jobs were the same ones who were causing the trouble. They'd say to themselves, "We don't have to find them. They find us" ... Once the Ethnic Catering Service was on the case, they felt like they were reaching all those hard-to-reach hard-to-hold hardcore hardrock blackrage badass furious funky ghetto youth.
I’ve read most of his booksa great writer and chronicler of American life from the 60s to the recent present. His very creative style was a profound influence on writers who came after. RIP
Bonfire of the Vanities is one of the all-time greats. And in nonfiction, The Right Stuff is just as great.
RIP to an American original, Tom Wolfe.
Agree 100% on Bonfire. Horrible movie, awesome anti-PC book.
Loved his “A Man in Full,” “I am Charlotte Simmons” (ANY person with a college kid needs to read this), “Bonfire.”
Brian DePalma. It effectively destroyed his career.
The production was chronicled here:
Always admired him. The Right Stuff is an amazing read. Bonfire of the Vanities was prophetic.
Watched “The Right Stuff” again just the other night. A good movie based on a better book.
Thank you, Mr. Wolfe, for adding to the lexicon of America. We will miss you......
Thank you for the tip! I’ll take a look.
How many modern authors have generated as many clichés as he did?
When I was a freshman in college (1972) The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test was required reading. I fell in love with TW’s writing style.
Electric Cool Aid Acid Test?! The story of Ken Kesey and has he Merry Pranksters! Great Read.
That is what I thought of.
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