Girls Gotta Read Ep. 14: The Man in the White Suit

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The great American novelist and essayist Tom Wolfe is remembered today for his unapologetically honest, oftentimes hilarious, and frequently scathing writing on class and status in American society. An essayist turned novelist, Wolfe possessed an unparalleled ability to cut through the hypocrisy of his day and hold a mirror up to the people, events, and cultures he wrote about.

Whether you love or hate him, there is no denying Tom Wolfe’s genius. The girls discuss Wolfe’s life, legacy, and of course, that iconic white suit, on this episode.

Tom Wolfe Fast Facts:

  • Born: March 2, 1930 in Richmond, VA
  • Wolfe’s father was an agronomy professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and his mother was a garden designer. Tome’s father encouraged the young Tom to become an artist and gave him a love of reading.
  • Wolfe graduated cum laude from Washington and Lee University in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree in English. Afterwards, he went to Yale and did a PhD in American Studies.
  • While working on his thesis, Wolfe became a reporter for The Springfield Union in Springfield, Massachusetts.
  • Afterwards, he moved to D.C. to work at The Washington Post, and then NYC to work for The New York Herald Tribune. Throughout his life he continued work as an essayist, working for magazines like Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Chicago Today.
  • Wolfe is credited with pioneering New Journalism, a style of reporting that blends literary techniques with journalistic techniques. The result is reporting that reads more like a dramatic narrative than a typical report with dates, facts, and quotes.
  • Wolfe died May 14, 2018 at the age of 88.

Notable works:

  • The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1964)
  • The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)
  • The Right Stuff (1979)
  • Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers (1970)
  • The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987)
  • A Man in Full (1998)

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