Tom Wolfe

Listen: The Legacy of Tom Wolfe

May 15, 2018
(AP Photo/Jim Cooper)

Washington and Lee University English professor Marc Conner discusses Tom Wolfe's impact on literature and on his alma mater.  Wolfe graduated from W&L in 1951.

In a career that spanned more than half a century, Tom Wolfe wrote fiction and nonfiction best-sellers including The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Bonfire of the Vanities. Along the way, he created a new type of journalism and coined phrases that became part of the American lexicon. Wolfe died Monday in Manhattan. He was 88.

Wolfe didn't start a novel with a character or a plot, but rather, with an idea. In 1987, wearing his signature white suit, Wolfe told me how he began his first novel, a panoramic story of New York Society: