Author and Richmond native Tom Wolfe dies at 87

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Tom Wolfe, an innovative journalist whose technicolour, wildly punctuated prose brought to life the worlds of California surfers, vehicle customisers, astronauts and Manhattans moneyed status-seekers in works such as The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, The Right Stuff and Bonfire Of The Vanities, has died.

A celebrated journalist and best-selling author, Wolfe had been hospitalized for an infection when he died on Monday (May 14), according to the New York Times, citing his long-time literary agent.

Wolfe began his writing career as a newspaper reporter, first for the Washington Post and then for the New York Herald Tribune.

Wolfe worked as a reporter at the Springfield Union in MA and as the Latin American correspondent for the Washington Post. These titles put him in a class with other great writers whose titles also became films like Truman Capote (1967's In Cold Blood) and Norman Mailer (1958's The Naked and the Dead).

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In the collection Wolfe wrote, "The most important literature being written in America today is in nonfiction".

Wolfe's first novel 'The Bonfire of the Vanities, ' was first serialised in Rolling Stone magazine and came out as a book three years later.

In 1979, he published The Right Stuff, a portrait of American heroism, viewed through the exploits of military test pilots and astronauts known as the Mercury Seven, which was made into a successful movie in 1983.

The writer, known for his dapper style and signature white suits, became a star in his own right in the '70s and '80s, which was rare for a journalist. He is survived by his wife Sheila and son Tommy.