A pioneer of new journalism, Wolfe wove ornate tapestries through his fervent prosaic style and vivid storytelling techniques.
A dapper dresser and NY icon, Wolfe was known for his trademark white suits, homburg hats and white kid gloves. "All the same, he was one of the most modest and kindest people I have ever met".
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.
FILE - President George W. Bush, Tom Wolfe and first lady Laura Bush are pictured at the National Endowment for the Arts national medal awards ceremony at Constitution Hall in Washington, April 22, 2002.
The author and journalist started as a regional newspaper reporter at Massachusetts' Springfield Union before moving onto The Washington Post. He had a pitiless eye and a penchant for spotting trends and then giving them names, some of which - like "Radical Chic" and "the Me Decade" - became American idioms.
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Wolfe's best-known work is perhaps bonfire of vanities, which is still considered great novel of NY. "The question is not only whether Tom Wolfe can be taken seriously but whether he can be taken at all", a Time magazine critic wrote in 1968.
"Saddened to hear of Tom Wolfe's passing".
He then moved onto his first work of fiction, "The Bonfire of the Vanities" a seminal tale of 1980s NY involving a Wall Street banker, a Bronx high school student, and a tabloid reporter.
After this he wrote a number of popular books, both documentary and artistic. "He changed my life, and I am grateful I was able to thank him for the wildly unrealistic dream he gave me as an 18 year old boy", astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted.
Wolfe is survived by Sheila Wolfe, his wife of almost 40 years; a son, Tommy Wolfe, and a daughter, Alexandra Wolfe.