By Page Van Pernis
Tom Wolfe is an American Journalist and Author, born in Virginia in 1931. He is a very respected journalist and coins the wave of “new journalism.” He was offered many academic jobs, but preferred to be a journalist. From 1957 to 1959 he worked for the Washington Post. He went on in the early sixties to work for the New York Herald as a feature writer.
When the New York newspaper strike took place he turned his attention to Esquire Magazine. He created an article, and book on hot rod culture in southern california titled The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. This was one of his earliest examples of what he called “New Journalism”. Which consisted of scene-by-scene construction, extensive dialogue, multiple points of view, and detailed description of one’s status life symbols. (“materialistic choices”) He also believed it was necessary to do what he called “saturation reporting”, Which is when a journalist “shadows” or observes a subject over a long period of time. In saturation reporting, the journalist acquires more complex set of relationships and gets directly involved.
One of Wolfe’s greatest examples of New journalism is found in his book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test following the Merry Pranksters along with Ken Kesey. In 1973 Wolfe and E.W. Johnson published another book titled The New Journalism, this was a collection of new journalists and their articles.
In 1977 Wolfe appeared in a movie titled “Tom Wolfe’s Los Angeles” in which he played himself. Wolfe had published 17 novels between 1965 and 2016. His most recent book is a non-fiction titled The Kingdom of Speech. This book discusses theories of evolution and human accomplishments. He has written many articles and essays, and been featured in numerous works, and is the receiver of dozens of awards.
Aside from his professional life, He has a wife named sheila and also has a son, Tommy, and a daughter Alexandria. They live in New York City and Wolfe designs covers for Harper’s Magazine.