Remembering Tom Wolfe, Author of Bonfire of the Vanities

By May 16, 2018Authors, News
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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.

Frank McCourt: Wise Words From The Teacher Man

By | Authors, Quotations | No Comments
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Frank McCourt was born on 19th August 1930 in Brooklyn New York. His family moved back to Ireland during the Great Depression, where his alcoholic father, found it difficult to come by and keep a job. After McCourt’s father left Limerick, his mother struggled alone, to bring up Frank and his siblings in abject poverty.

McCourt returned to NewYork in 1949, where he managed to survive doing odd jobs, until he was drafted during The Korean War. On his discharge he managed to bluff his way into New York University, where in 1957 he graduated with a batchelor’s degree in English. He went on to teach at six schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan and earned his master’s degree in 1967. Read More

8 books by left-handed authors to celebrate ‘International Left Handers Day’

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Left handers have been mocked and demonised throughout the years, especially from religious people who believe the left hand to be ‘unclean’, or accusing left handers to be ‘consorting with the devil’.

As absurd as those claims may seem now, some of the negativity towards left-handed folk remains to this day. Left handers were still battling in the 20th century against people like American psychoanalyst Abram Blau, who accused all left-handers of being perverts. Even seemingly well-meaning teachers still insist on their student switching hands when they start to learn to write.

If only left handers were just left to be lefties! Some of our favourite writers were left-handed, and it is said that lefties tend to be more creative and arty than right handers.

Here’s a list of 8 of our favourite lefty writers.

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Nobel Prize Winning Author VS Naipaul Dies

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Novelist VS Naipaul has died peacefully at home in London just a few days before his 86th birthday. The Nobel Prize winning author of more than thirty books including A Bend in the River and A House for Mr Biswas was born in rural Trinidad in 1932 and went on to become a key figure in British literary heritage.

Sir VS Naipaul had been in ill health for a while and published his final work, the nonfiction The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief in 2010. Today the literary world is in shock. Here are some of the tributes on Twitter today.

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Roots Author Alex Haley Talks of the Horrors of Slavery

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Alex Haley (August 11th, 1921 – February 10th, 1992) was an American author, best known for his 1976 Pulitzer Prize winning book Roots: The Saga of an American Family, adapted to a series a year later in 1977.

While a fantastic story, Roots was not without controversy and its release was marred by accusations of plagiarism (proven to be partly true), and doubts cast on the authenticity of the family ties. Today the book is accepted to be a work of fiction, and controversy aside is still a worthy read with an important message.

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Chinese Crime Writer Who Used His Own Murders as Inspiration for His Stories Sentenced to Death

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Last year, we reported the news that the Chinese crime author Liu Yongbiao had been arrested for the decades old murder of four people he and a friend killed after a robbery went wrong. Following his trial a few days ago, the 53-year-old has been sentenced to death for the murders which occurred 23 years ago.

In 1995, Liu Yongbiao and an accomplice named Wang Mouming robbed a hostel. After being discovered, the two killed a family of three as well as another guest by beating them to death him hammers and clubs in order to cover their tracks. Since the crime, Liu became a famed writer and was even a member of the China Writers’ Association.

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A Story Ernest Hemingway Wrote in 1956 Is to Be Published for the First Time

By | Authors, New Releases | No Comments
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Ernest Hemingway is arguably one of the finest authors to have ever put pen to paper, and his given us many modern classics such as A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea. Fans of Hemingway will be very pleased to learn that, more than 60 years after it was first written, a Hemingway story called A Room at the Garden Side is set to be published for the first time.

For decades, the novel has remained hidden away from scholars and academics, but has finally resurfaced. The story takes place in the Ritz Hotel, Paris, a setting which has appeared in previous Hemingway novels and holds personal significance for the author. The novel is narrated by a character called Robert, who happens to share Hemingway’s own nickname, Papa. Robert and his band of soldiers, who are all due to leave the city the next day, spend their time drinking and debating “the dirty trade of war.”
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