Tom Wolfe: From “Radical Chic” to “The Right Stuff”

From The Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of journalist and novelist Tom Wolfe, born in 1930 in Richmond, Virginia. He is the author of the novels The Bonfire of the Vanities, A Man in Full, I Am Charlotte Simmons, and Back to Blood. He said, “The reason a writer writes a book is to forget a book, and the reason a reader reads one is to remember it.”

The historian Meredith Hindley credits Wolfe with introducing the terms “statusphere”, “the right stuff”, “radical chic”, and “the Me Decade” into the English lexicon.

According to journalism professor Ben Yagoda, Wolfe is also responsible for the increased use of the present tense in magazine profiles; before he began doing it in the early 1960s, almost all profiles had been written in the past tense.

Wolfe died in 2018. His final book was a non-fiction critique of Charles Darwin and Noam Chomsky, The Kingdom of Speech.

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