Who is Tom Wolfe? Not to be confused with the other novelist Thomas Wolfe (You Can’t Go Home Again). I have to admit I didn’t know much about him, other than from an episode of the Simpson’s where he’s white suit personality has been forever immortalized in reruns, until I watched an interview recently. In regard to the white suits (he’s the only man who looks good in them besides Don Johnson), he says they have been “worth their weight in gold”. I imagine so. It’s almost like company branding.
If you’re like me, having more knowledge of Woolf over Wolfe, you may be more familiar with such books-to-films as The Right Stuff (1979) and Bonfire of the Vanities (1987). Both were written by Wolfe. Tom, not Thomas.
His white suits are not his only distinguishing feature. If you were to be a fly on a wall in his office you’d see him working away at a typewriter before you were squashed for peeping on his next work in progress. Is it me or has working from a typewriter become cliché? I remember when I learned typing in the early 80s we had to use the old clangers which would certainly cause tears of pain in any carpel tunnel sufferers of today.
This reporter and novelist could have very well taken another turn in life. A little know fact about Wolfe was his talent and enjoyment for playing baseball, he was semi pro in Richmond Virginia where he was born. What young man wouldn’t want the fame and fortune of what the Sports Hall of Fame brings? Wolfe would have liked to have played pro rather than graduate from school but instead he’s the author in the white suit.
Do you need personality to be a writer? Tom Wolfe thinks his personality comes from his suits and while that may be the case, this notable writer who currently lives in New York with his wife and two kids can enjoy it all the way to the bank. I’m sure Tom Wolfe will be remembered for his body of work, white suit or not.
Tom Wolfe’s latest book is I Am Charlotte Simmons : A Novel. The story is about a sheltered 18 year genius from the Blue Ridge Mountains who’s accepted on scholarship to the best university in America where she hopes to “expand her mind”. She learns college really has a life and culture of its own. In Wolfe’s journalistic tradition he researched this book by visiting many colleges hoping to provide realism to this fictional story.
This piece was published 3/6/2006 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.