Remembering Tom Wolfe, Author of Bonfire of the Vanities - For Reading Addicts

Remembering Tom Wolfe, Author of Bonfire of the Vanities

By May 16, 2018 Authors, News

Sad news reached us yesterday with the death of American author and journalist Tom Wolfe.

Born Thomas Kennerly Wolfe Jr. on 2nd March 1930 in Richmond Virginia, Tom Wolfe showed his love for writing early, as editor of the school newspaper. After graduating in 1947, Wolfe turned down an offer for Princeton University and instead attented Washington and Lee University where he was a member of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity. During his time at university he majored in English, was sports editor of the university newspaper and helped to found a literary magazine, Shenandoah giving him plenty of opportunity to practice his writing and journalistic skills.

A keen baseball player too, Wolfe played semi-professionally while still at college and in 1952 earned a tryout with the New York Giants, he was cut after three days and abandoned baseball for good (possibly good news for us readers!) and took a doctorate instead.

Wolfe’s thesis was titled The League of American Writers: Communist Organizational Activity Among American Writers, 1929-1942 and in the course of his research interviews many writers of the day including Malcolm Cowley, Archibald MacLeish and James T. Farrell.

This led to Wolfe being offered many jobs in academia but he turned them all down to work as a reporter. In 1956 he become a reporter for the Springfield Union in Springfield, Massachusetts but by 1959 was working for the Washington Post. While working for the Post he won an award from The Newspaper Guild for foreign reportig in Cuba in 1961 and a further Guild’s award for humour. It was during this time that he honed his fiction writing skills in feature pieces for the Post.

Eventually Wolfe would head to New York and it was here he would find his first literary success. After being commissioned to write a piece for Esquire on the custom car culture of South California he struggled, slipping into procrastination. The evening before the deadline the piece still wasn’t written and Wolfe typed a letter to his editor, Byron Dobell ignoring all journalistic conventions and explain what he wanted to say on the subject. Dobell removed the salutation ‘Dear Byron’ and published the piece. While the piece itself got a mixed reception, the notoriety it created led to Wolfe publishing his first book The Kandy Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, a collection of writings from his journalistic days. In the process he coined ‘New Journalism’.

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The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and many other nonfiction works would follow through the 1960s and 1970s and continue right up to 2016. In 1987 Wolfe got his first success as a novelist with his best known work, The Bonfire of the Vanities, said to be inspired by Vanity Fair. Three more full length novels followed, more nonfiction works, and a raft of awards for his journalism throughout his career. Wolfe’s final work was a nonfiction book, The Kingdom of Speech, released in 2016.

Recently Tom Wolfe was hospitalised in Manhattan with an infection. On Tuesday, Tom’s agent confirmed that Tom Wolfe had died on Monday 14th May, aged 88.

AZA Universe: A New Generation of Superhero

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A new universe of superheroes is here thanks to a young entrepreneur from North Carolina, USA.

Jazmin Truesdale has been a proud nerd all her life, loving comic books, science fiction, and action movies, but always looking for some positive representation within those entertainment spheres. As one may imagine the worlds of graphic novels and comic books are very straight-white-male-centric, with shallow female characters. and few depictions of non-white women.

Jazmin, with her entrepreneurial mind and passion for cultural diversity, began creating characters she would want to read about and, with the help from an illustrator, her universe was born. It has not been an easy journey- finding an illustrator who knew how to draw Black women’s bodies was one particular hurdle to overcome, however Jazmin’s drive and focus ensured her goal became a reality.

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Author Sherrilyn Kenyon Accuses Husband of Attempting to Poison Her

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In a plot worthy of any good novel, ‘Dark Hunter’ author Sherrilyn Kenyon is suing her husband for allegedly poisoning her food for three years in an attempt to steal her life insurance.

The author, who has sold more than 70 million books during her career claims that her husband, Lawrence Kenyon was lacing her food with poison from 2014 until they split last year. She says the poison left her with clumps of hair falling out, crumbling teeth, tremors and back pain, all unexplained by doctors until tests showed unusually high levels of lithium in her blood.

She claims her husband was helped by his assistant Kerrie Ann Plump and her IT specialist Paco Cavanaugh to carry on the scheme and says that her husband laced her food while Cavanaugh siphoned hundreds of thousands off her bank accounts.

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Susan Sontag, Writer, Philosopher, Political Activist

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Susan Sontag (January 16th, 1933 – December 28th, 2004) was an American writer, philosopher and political activist known among readers for her essays and nonfiction works.

Born Susan Rosenblatt in New York City to Jewish parents of Lithuanian and Polish descent. When Susan was five years old her father died and several years later her mother married a US Army Captain, Nathan Sontag, giving Susan the name we remember her by. Despite being raised by Jewish parents, Sontag stated that she did not have a religious upbringing and was in her 20s before she entered a synagogue.

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The Private Lives of Authors: Theodor ‘Dr Seuss’ Geisel

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Theodor Geisel is best known as the master of zany characters and clever rhymes; the father of creations such as Fox in Socks, and The Cat in the Hat: Dr Seuss.

Before he created the writer-persona of Dr Seuss, Geisel was an artist of another kind. In his spare time he created sculptures of interesting and strange creatures, using parts of real animals. Of course it is not as grotesque as it sounds- the animal parts were given to Theodor after the animals died of natural causes. His father was the superintendent of parks in Massachusetts at the time when a young Geisel was working as a fledgling author and illustrator. When zoo and park animals crossed the rainbow bridge, Geisel’s father sent him the various animals’ parts to help him create some whacky characters.

Horns, antlers, beaks, and all sorts were used by Geisel to build some of the most fantastical animals that, unsurprisingly, look like they have jumped straight out of a Dr Seuss picture book.

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Authors and Writers Offer Unique Funeral Service

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Writer Dana Schwartz has come up with a unique business model- Mysterious Funeral Goer.

The author of And We’re Off, and memoir Choose Your Own Disaster, offered to stand at the back of a funeral with a massive black umbrella, looking mysterious. For a small fee, of course.

Fellow authors and humorists of Twitter, including our favourite Neil Gaiman, got involved to either take her up on the offer or to join the enterprise. A surprising amount of people were up for it, prompting Schwartz to promote her latest book in place of Venmo donations.

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The Books of Alice Hegan Rice

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Alice Hegan Rice (January 11th, 1870 – February 10th, 1942) also known as Alice Caldwell Hegan, was an American novelist born in Shelbyville, Kentucky who wrote more than two dozen books during her career but is still little known today.

Born in Kentucky to parents Sallie Caldwell and Samuel Hegan, Alice was drawn to creative pursuits from childhood and loved drawing and writing poetry and short stories. Alice spent much of her career advocating for the rights of the underprivileged. She lived most of her life in Louisville, which is where she met her husband, Cale Young Rice who was also an author, dramatist and poet.

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