Bonfire of Vanities author Tom Wolfe dies aged 87

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Literary giant Tom Wolfe, who chronicled everything from hippies to the space program before turning his eye to fiction, has died.

Tom Wolfe, the innovative writer who chronicled the early days of the USA space program, American surf culture and the rise of 1960s counterculture before becoming a novelist with his classic Bonfire Of The Vanities, died Monday night.

Born and Raised in Richmond, Virginia, to an agronomist father and a mother who was a landscape architect, Wolfe traced his love for literature to the books his parents kept on their bookshelves.

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His books included "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" and "The Bonfire of the Vanities". He graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1951 and later received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1957.

Wolfe married Sheila Berger, the artistic director of Harper's magazine, in 1978.

In 1979, he published The Right Stuff, a portrait of American heroism, viewed through the exploits of military test pilots and astronauts known as the Mercury Seven, which was made into a successful movie in 1983.

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"His work changed my life and convinced me to write nonfiction", bestselling writer Susan Orlean wrote of Wolfe in a Twitter post on Tuesday. "I never exchanged a cross word with him in our many years of working together".

His first work of fiction turned out to be his most famous, the bestseller The Bonfire of the Vanities, an epic satire on social class, ambition, racism, politics and greed in 1980s NY.

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