Thomas Kennerly Wolfe, Jr., is a prominent and popular writer of fiction and social commentary. He was born in Richmond, Virginia, on March 2, 1931, the son of Thomas Kennerly and Helen (Hughes) Wolfe. He received a bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University (1951) and a Ph.D. in American studies from Yale University (1957). In 1978 he married Sheila Berger, art director of Harper’s Magazine. While Wolfe was establishing himself as a writer of satirical essays on contemporary American culture, he worked as a reporter for various newspapers and magazines, beginning in the late 1950’s with the Springfield Union and continuing in the 1960’s with The Washington Post, New York Herald Tribune, New York Sunday magazine, and New York World Journal Tribune. Wolfe has served as a contributing editor for New York and Esquire magazines and contributing artist for Harper’s Magazine. As an artist, he has exhibited in one-man shows and illustrated many of his own works.
With the exception of an occasional short story, Wolfe wrote no fiction until The Bonfire of the Vanities. Until then, he was known for his witty and incisive social commentaries, written in a style characterized as “new journalism,” a term associated with Wolfe since the publication in Esquire of “The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.” New journalism is a blend of journalistic objectivity and fictional subjectivity, written in a colloquial style, often with the reporter intruding into the narrative. The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, a collection of twenty-two essays including the celebrated Esquire piece, was...
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