Bonfire of the Vanities: Tom Wolfe, 1931-2018 | Richland Library Skip to content

Bonfire of the Vanities: Tom Wolfe, 1931-2018

Tom Wolfe, a pioneering figure in the “New Journalism” movement of the 1960s and 1970s, died on 14 May at the age of eighty-eight. Wolfe, along with Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Gay Talese, and others, wrote nonfiction with a verve and flair traditionally associated with fiction, and this approach transformed journalism in ways that still resonate today.

Wolfe also published fiction that provided a sharp, unsparing analysis of contemporary American life, from the materialism of the 1980s as embodied in Wall Street, to the melting-pot culture of Miami early in this century.

Check out the following titles by Wolfe – some well known, others not so much but deserving of a wider audience – from Richland Library’s collection.


Amazon Says: The maestro storyteller and reporter provocatively argues that what we think we know about speech and human evolution is wrong. "A whooping, joy-filled a more...
Amazon Says: The maestro storyteller and reporter provocatively argues that what we think we know about speech and human evolution is wrong. "A whooping, joy-filled and hyperbolic raid on, of all things, the theory of evolution." (Dwight Garner, New York Times) Tom Wolfe, whose legend began in journalism, takes us on an eye-opening journey that is sure to arouse widespread debate. THE KINGDOM OF SPEECH is a captivating, paradigm-shifting argument that speech--not evolution--is responsible for humanity's complex societies and achievements. From Alfred Russel Wallace, the Englishman who beat Darwin to the theory of natural selection but later renounced it, and through the controversial work of modern-day anthropologist Daniel Everett, who defies the current wisdom that language is hard-wired in humans, Wolfe examines the solemn, long-faced, laugh-out-loud zig-zags of Darwinism, old and Neo, and finds it irrelevant here in the Kingdom of Speech. less...
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Amazon Says: A big, panoramic story of the new America, as told by our master chronicler of the way we live now. As a police launch speeds across Miami's Biscayne Bay-with officer Nestor more...
Amazon Says: A big, panoramic story of the new America, as told by our master chronicler of the way we live now. As a police launch speeds across Miami's Biscayne Bay-with officer Nestor Camacho on board-Tom Wolfe is off and running. Into the feverous landscape of the city, he introduces the Cuban mayor, the black police chief, a wanna-go-muckraking young journalist and his Yale-marinated editor; an Anglo sex-addiction psychiatrist and his Latina nurse by day, loin lock by night-until lately, the love of Nestor's life; a refined, and oh-so-light-skinned young woman from Haiti and her Creole-spouting, black-gang-banger-stylin' little brother; a billionaire porn addict, crack dealers in the 'hoods, "de-skilled" conceptual artists at the Miami Art Basel Fair, "spectators" at the annual Biscayne Bay regatta looking only for that night's orgy, yenta-heavy ex-New Yorkers at an "Active Adult" condo, and a nest of shady Russians. Based on the same sort of detailed, on-scene, high-energy reporting that powered Tom Wolfe's previous bestselling novels, BACK TO BLOOD is another brilliant, spot-on, scrupulous, and often hilarious reckoning with our times. less...
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Hooking Up by Tom Wolfe
Amazon Says: Only yesterday boys and girls spoke of embracing and kissing (necking) as getting to first base. Second base was deep kissing, plus groping and fondling this and that. Third b more...
Amazon Says: Only yesterday boys and girls spoke of embracing and kissing (necking) as getting to first base. Second base was deep kissing, plus groping and fondling this and that. Third base was oral sex. Home plate was going all the way. That was yesterday. Here in the Year 2000 we can forget about necking. Today's girls and boys have never heard of anything that dainty. Today first base is deep kissing, now known as tonsil hockey, plus groping and fondling this and that. Second base is oral sex. Third base is going all the way. Home plate is being introduced by name. And how rarely our hooked-up boys and girls are introduced by name!-as Tom Wolfe has discovered from a survey of girls' File-o-Fax diaries, to cite but one of Hooking Up's displays of his famed reporting prowess. Wolfe ranges from coast to coast chronicling everything from the sexual manners and mores of teenagers... to fundamental changes in the way human beings now regard themselves thanks to the hot new field of genetics and neuroscience. . . to the inner workings of television's magazine-show sting operations. Printed here in its entirety is "Ambush at Fort Bragg," a novella about sting TV in which Wolfe prefigured with eerie accuracy three cases of scandal and betrayal that would soon explode in the press. A second piece of fiction, "U. R. Here," the story of a New York artist who triumphs precisely because of his total lack of talent, gives us a case history preparing us for Wolfe's forecast ("My Three Stooges," "The Invisible Artist") of radical changes about to sweep the arts in America. As an espresso after so much full-bodied twenty-first-century fare, we get a trip to Memory Mall. Reprinted here for the first time are Wolfe's two articles about The New Yorker magazine and its editor, William Shawn, which ignited one of the great firestorms of twentieth-century journalism. Wolfe's afterword about it all is in itself a delicious draught of an intoxicating era, the Twistin' Sixties. In sum, here is Tom Wolfe at the height of his powers as reporter, novelist, sociologist, memoirist, and-to paraphrase what Balzac called himself-the very secretary of American society in the 21st century. less...
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Amazon Says: Vintage Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities, the #1 bestseller that will forever define late-twentieth-century New York style. "No one has portrayed New York Society this a more...
Amazon Says: Vintage Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities, the #1 bestseller that will forever define late-twentieth-century New York style. "No one has portrayed New York Society this accurately and devastatingly since Edith Wharton" (The National Review)“A page-turner . . . Brilliant high comedy.” (The New Republic) less...
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The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
Amazon Says: From "America's nerviest journalist" (Newsweek)--a breath-taking epic, a magnificent adventure story, and an investigation into the true heroism and courage of the first Am more...
Amazon Says: From "America's nerviest journalist" (Newsweek)--a breath-taking epic, a magnificent adventure story, and an investigation into the true heroism and courage of the first Americans to conquer space. "Tom Wolfe at his very best" (The New York Times Book Review) Millions of words have poured forth about man's trip to the moon, but until now few people have had a sense of the most engrossing side of the adventure; namely, what went on in the minds of the astronauts themselves - in space, on the moon, and even during certain odysseys on earth. It is this, the inner life of the astronauts, that Tom Wolfe describes with his almost uncanny empathetic powers, that made The Right Stuff a classic. less...
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Amazon Says: "When are the 1970s going to begin?" ran the joke during the Presidential campaign of 1976. With his own patented combination of serious journalism and dazzling comedy, Tom Wo more...
Amazon Says: "When are the 1970s going to begin?" ran the joke during the Presidential campaign of 1976. With his own patented combination of serious journalism and dazzling comedy, Tom Wolfe met the question head-on in these rollicking essays -- and even provided the 1970s with its name: "The Me Decade." less...
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The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe
Amazon Says: "America's nerviest journalist" (Newsweek) trains his satirical eye on Modern Art in this "masterpiece" (The Washington Post) more...
Amazon Says: "America's nerviest journalist" (Newsweek) trains his satirical eye on Modern Art in this "masterpiece" (The Washington Post) Wolfe's style has never been more dazzling, his wit never more keen. He addresses the scope of Modern Art, from its founding days as Abstract Expressionism through its transformations to Pop, Op, Minimal, and Conceptual. The Painted Word is Tom Wolfe "at his most clever, amusing, and irreverent" (San Francisco Chronicle). less...
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Amazon Says: Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers is classic Wolfe, a funny, irreverent, and "delicious" (The Wall Street Journal) dissection of class and status by the master of Ne more...
Amazon Says: Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers is classic Wolfe, a funny, irreverent, and "delicious" (The Wall Street Journal) dissection of class and status by the master of New Journalism"On the night of January 4, 1970, Maestro and Mrs. Leonard Bernstein threw a bash in their thirteen-room park Avenue pad to raise money for the Black Panthers Defense Fund. New York society will probably never play Lady Bountiful in quite the same way again, because among the Beautiful People present was Tom Wolfe, pop sociologist and parajournalist supreme."--Book World less...
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Amazon Says: Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test ushered in an era of New Journalism, "An American classic" (Newsweek) that defined a generation. "An astonishing book" (The New Yor more...
Amazon Says: Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test ushered in an era of New Journalism, "An American classic" (Newsweek) that defined a generation. "An astonishing book" (The New York Times Book Review) and an unflinching portrait of Ken Kesey, his Merry Pranksters, LSD, and the 1960s. less...
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Amazon Says: "An excellent book by a genius," said Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., of this now classic exploration of the 1960s from the founder of new journalism."This is a book that will be a more...
Amazon Says: "An excellent book by a genius," said Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., of this now classic exploration of the 1960s from the founder of new journalism."This is a book that will be a sharp pleasure to reread years from now, when it will bring back, like a falcon in the sky of memory, a whole world that is currently jetting and jazzing its way somewhere or other."--NewsweekIn his first book, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1965) Wolfe introduces us to the sixties, to extravagant new styles of life that had nothing to do with the "elite" culture of the past. less...
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