"A blazing, satirical eye for detail": Writers, journalists pay tribute to Tom Wolfe
Father of 'New Journalism' Tom Wolfe passed away on 14 May 2018 at the age of 88 in Manhattan. The American author and journalist was known for introducing innovative literary techniques in news writing and journalism, and also, for his satirical style of writing. While he started his career in the 1950s as a regional newspaper reporter, he rose to prominence 10 years later for his book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and two collections of articles and essays, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers and The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.
Here are some of the tributes from leading journalists and editors:
In an interview with a leading publication, Michael Wolff, a second wave writer of New Journalism said Tom and a handful of others reinvented the way journalism was written. It was he who transferred journalism from filing news reports and non-fiction and turned it into a literary product. That made legions of writers want to emulate him, and his writing style. Tina Brown, former Vanity Fair editor and the New Yorker, talking about Tom Wolfe, says she hasn’t seen anybody with his blazing, satirical eye for detail, while at the same time, retaining a sense of acrobatic skill with language, but never losing his poise as a journalist.
Documentary maker Graydon Carter, who is also the former editor of the Spy and The New York Observer, said Tom moulded the English language to fit his needs as much as PG Wodehouse did with his fiction. He also went on to say that there are only a handful of journalists whose work will be read 30, 40 years from now, and Tom is at the top of the list. Interestingly, it was Ann Marie Lipinski who made the most interesting observation about Tom Wolfe and his work. The Curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, points out an essay in the New Journalism collection, which talks about a young reporter in the newsroom, who realises that they way things are done is not necessarily how they need to be done. Lipinski adds that Wolfe put a lot of emphasis on detail and style, but at the same time placed a lot of importance on finding one's own voice, and making that a characteristic of one’s work.
Actor Ed Hayes, on the other hand, offers a tribute to Tom Wolfe involving his personal life. The lawyer and author went on to say that while everybody felt one way, Tom would make a deal about feeling the other way. Ed also went on to add that Tom liked picking fights, and would even tell him to pick up a fight, because it was the work he did, and he was allowed to do it.