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Tom Wolfe obituary: a great dandy, in elaborate dress and neon-lit prose

Journalist and author who won a name as a brilliant satirist with the ‘novel of the 1980s’, The Bonfire of the Vanities

The writer Tom Wolfe, who has died aged 88, was a great dandy, both in his elaborate dress and his neon-lit prose. Although he was in his late 50s when he became a bestselling novelist, with The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987), some 30 years before that he was already famous as a journalist, was indeed that extremely rare thing, the journalist as international celebrity.

It was a part Wolfe played up to, wearing showy tailor-made white suits, summer and winter, as well as fancy headgear and shirts with detachable collars. The overall impression was of a fashionplate from a bygone age. The sartorial fireworks fitted in very well with the highly eccentric literary style Wolfe used and which made such a name for him when he published The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1965), which brought the world the first news of the 1960s counterculture in California.

Related: Tom Wolfe: Bonfire of the Vanities author dies aged 88

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