Best-selling author Tom Wolfe dies at 88

Author Tom Wolfe attends the 2012 Trophee Des Arts Gala at The Plaza Hotel on Nov. 30 2012 in New York City

He coined expressions such as "radical chic", for rich liberals fascinated with revolutionaries, and the "me generation", which nailed the self-absorption of 1970s baby boomers.

Wolfe first came to national prominence after publishing The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which followed Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, in the 1960s.

In addition to his novels and nonfiction books, Wolfe pioneered the "New Journalism" style, which combined reporting with creative literary techniques.

Wolfe was also famous for his dapper "Southern gentleman" look, often appearing in public in a pristine white suit, white homburg hat, and two-tone shoes. Written in a wild free-association style that disregarded rules of punctuation, it was filled with sentence fragments and used words like "skakkkkkkkkkkkkkk" and "wowwwwwww".

More news: Militant shot dead in attack on police headquarters in Indonesia's Riau province

The Right Stuff, Wolfe's 1979 account of the early days of the USA space program and the test pilots recruited for it, remains his best-selling work. It followed the greed, racism and social classes of New York City in the 1980s.

"I thought so many times about what went wrong", DiNovi said in the book. Wolfe had taken a then-unusual path to writing, for an establishment kid from Richmond, Virginia, taking a PhD in American Studies, a discipline which emphasised the importance of everyday life. That kindled rivalries with contemporaries Norman Mailer and John Updike, who Wolfe referred to as "two old piles of bones". He'd worked in traditional journalism through the 1950s; the custom-car subculture brought him to the crisis moment necessary to innovation.

"My co-writer was a different Tom Wolfe, of course", Nutter told TheWrap via email. He was a star pitcher in high school and in college at Washington and Lee and unsuccessfully tried out for the New York Giants.

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