Groundbreaking US writer Tom Wolfe dies, aged 88

Tom Wolfe, the white-suited wizard of "New Journalism" who exuberantly chronicled American culture from the Merry Pranksters through the space race before turning his satiric wit to such novels as "The Bonfire of the Vanities" and "A Man in Full," has died. He was 88.

Wolfe's literary agent, Lynn Nesbit, told The Associated Press that he died of an infection Monday in a New York City hospital. Further details were not immediately available.

An acolyte of French novelist Emile Zola and other authors of "realistic" fiction, the stylishly-attired Wolfe was an American maverick who insisted that the only way to tell a great story was to go out and report it.

Along with Gay Talese, Truman Capote and Nora Ephron, he helped demonstrate that journalism could offer the kinds of literary pleasure found in books.

His hyperbolic, stylized writing work was a gleeful fusillade of exclamation points, italics and improbable words.

An ingenious phrase maker, he helped brand such expressions as "radical chic" for rich liberals' fascination with revolutionaries; and the "Me" generation, defining the self-absorbed baby boomers of the 1970s.

"He was an incredible writer," Talese told the AP on Tuesday. "And you couldn't imitate him. When people tried it was a disaster. They should have gotten a job at a butcher's shop."

Wolfe was both a literary upstart, sneering at the perceived stuffiness of the publishing establishment, and an old-school gentleman who went to the best schools and encouraged Michael Lewis and other younger writers. When attending promotional luncheons with fellow authors, he would make a point of reading their latest work.

"What I hope people know about him is that he was a sweet and generous man," Lewis, known for such books as "Moneyball" and "The Big Short," told the AP in an email Tuesday.

"Not just a great writer but a great soul. He didn't just help me to become a writer. He did it with pleasure."

Wolfe scorned the reluctance of American writers to confront social issues and warned that self-absorption and master's programs would kill the novel.

"So the doors close and the walls go up!" he wrote in his 1989 literary manifesto, "Stalking the Billion-Footed Beast."

He was astonished that no author of his generation had written a sweeping, 19th century style novel about contemporary New York City, and ended up writing one himself, "The Bonfire of the Vanities."

His work broke countless rules but was grounded in old-school journalism, in an obsessive attention to detail that began with his first reporting job and endured for decades.

"Nothing fuels the imagination more than real facts do," Wolfe told the AP in 1999. "As the saying goes, 'You can't make this stuff up.'"

Wolfe's interests were vast, but his narratives had a common theme. Whether sending up the New York art world or hanging out with acid heads, Wolfe inevitably presented man as a status-seeking animal, concerned above all about the opinion of one's peers.

Wolfe himself dressed for company - his trademark a pale three-piece suit, impossibly high shirt collar, two-tone shoes and a silk tie. And he acknowledged that he cared - very much - about his reputation.

"My contention is that status is on everybody's mind all of the time, whether they're conscious of it or not."

Author and journalist Tom Wolfe in 2016.
Author and journalist Tom Wolfe in 2016. Source: Associated Press



Meghan Markle's dad reportedly wants to attend Royal wedding after changing his mind

Meghan Markle's father has reportedly changed his mind and now wants to walk his daughter down the aisle as she marries Prince Harry, saying he doesn't want to miss out on history.

Thomas Markle, who told TMZ he was back in hospital with chest pains, said his daughter had tried to call him on Tuesday but he didn't have his phone on him, according to the celebrity news site.

He said she also texted saying she loved him and was concerned about his health.

Mr Markle said Meghan was not upset after his staged paparazzi photos. He was reportedly so upset by the reaction the photos that he decided to not attend the wedding.

He also said he didn’t think the Queen would be bothered by what he had done.

FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 25, 2017 file photo,  Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle arrive to attend the traditional Christmas Day service, at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, England. Long dismissed as a party boy, Prince Harry has transformed himself in the public eye and enjoys widespread popularity as he prepares to marry Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018. Harry has become a forceful advocate for veterans and won admiration by speaking openly about his struggle with the pain caused by the early death of his mother, Princess Diana.(AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)
Yesterday, Harry and Meghan were said to be devastated by her father's decision not to come. Source: Associated Press

"I don't think the Queen is thinking about what I'm doing."

"I hate the idea of missing one of the greatest moments in history and walking my daughter down the aisle."

If doctors allowed him out of hospital, Mr Markle says he will travel to England for the wedding.

Yesterday, Prince Harry and Ms Markle requested "understanding and respect" for her father after a celebrity news site reported he would not be coming to the royal wedding to walk his daughter down the aisle.

A palace statement on the "difficult situation" did not confirm the TMZ report that Thomas Markle had decided not to attend

Thomas Markle's decision is a bombshell for the bride-to-be. Source: 1 NEWS


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Watch: Homeless hero defends older women attacked in New York street assault

A homeless man has heroically sprung into action to avenge two elderly woman who were assaulted in an unprovoked attack on a New York street this past Mother's Day.

CCTV footage captured the incident on a Brooklyn street last Sunday, in which a man walked past two women and struck each of them in the head.

Almost immediately, a man draped in red is seen sprinting into the scene and begins grappling with the heavy-set attacker.

The homeless man, whose identity has not been revealed, manages to subdue and trap the attacker until the police arrive.

"Thank God he was there," eyewitness Karla Johnson told US television network ABC.

The two victims, both aged in their 70s, suffered minor injuries and were taken to Brookdale Hospital.

The 45-year-old suspect has been charged with two counts of assault.