Author Tom Wolfe

Author Tom Wolfe

There is no motivation higher than being a good writer.” Author Tom Wolfe

Wolfe, the much-admired writer who coined so many catchy phrases to describe life in this American century, is still laboring at 84, an age when most people drive golf carts in Florida’s sunshine or shuffle down hallways behind their walkers. Just read an interesting interview with Wolf in November’s Vanity Fair. Wolfe, wearing his iconic white suit, gave us “Bonfires of the Vanities” and “The Right Stuff,” and is among the founders of “New Journalism.” Using narrative non-fiction, Wolfe and his contemporaries melded sociology and journalism. He got inside the heads of those he wrote about, and while doing so, created memorable phrases. More urbane than the caustic Mencken, more civilized than the brawling Mailer, and more sober and grounded than Hunter Thompson, Wolfe is a delight to read. November’s profile is an intriguing look into his formative years and novelist’s success. An inventive wordsmith, and gifted with an eye for delicious detail, Wolf feasted on every human foible he found in drawing rooms from New York to Los Angeles, and from the Hamptons to Washington. His description of Miami: “A melting pot in which none of the stones melt. They rattle around.” Classic Wolfe. Why read Wolfe? Because he stirs the imagination with his use of words, and makes it possible to say, “Maybe I can catch some of that magic he bottled.” Why not? Read, read, read, then write, write, write. Finally, Wolfe’s advice to you, dear author, as well as to himself when facing the blank page or the self-imposed daily thousand-word goal—“What I write when I force myself is generally just as good as what I write when I’m feeling inspired. It’s mainly a matter of forcing yourself to write.”

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