He was 87 and lived a good long life. He accomplished much and I will allow others to laud his work and write his accolades.
I first encountered his writing when I was living in Woodstock NY where I found a copy of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test in my B-I-L's house. I read it. That was different. It was a story about places I had only heard of but never been to - San Francisco, La Honda, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway and so on. But I started my journey there and within a year I had actually seen Furthur in person and I had traveled a bit more. Within 15 years I was riding my bicycle up Old La Honda grade where the Hells Angels once rode their choppers to get to Kesey's place.
A few years ago his daughter graduated from a nearby university and Mr. Wolfe spoke there. I attended his talk and the first thing that struck me was his Richmond accent. Who knew? Makes perfect sense as he was born in Richmond in 1931 and he carried his roots with him throughout his life.
After the talk I got in line and got to meet him I had him autograph my copy of From Bauhaus to Our House, my favorite book on architecture, and I got to talk to him for ninety seconds. I asked him who his favorite current architect is and he said "Michael Graves". Well, what are you going to do - you can't argue with someone in a white suit so I nodded and said "Yeah, he does good work" or something to that effect. So from then on he was "My close personal friend Tom Wolfe".
Was Tom Wolfe our latest Mark Twain? Or, how did American writers go from Mark Twain to Tom Wolfe - maybe that's something that could be explored. I am currently reading Twain's autobiography and I will say this - those two dressed in a very similar way.
I am only a reader, not a scholar, but I do know this - we are an amazing country to have produced two authors of that caliber in less than 200 years.