In 2013, the NYPL acquired Wolfe's entire archive, including drafts and outlines for "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" and "The Right Stuff", dozens of notebooks and countless notes detailing his development of New Journalism, and more than 10,000 letters including correspondence with Hunter S. Thompson and William F. Buckley. Nesbit said Wolfe died after he was hospitalized with an infection.
In his use of novelistic techniques in his nonfiction, Wolfe, beginning in the 1960s, helped create the enormously influential hybrid known as New Journalism.
Wolfe was also a style icon, known for wearing a crisp white suit everywhere he went.
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Wolfe continuously strove to break down both journalistic and literary "rules", eschewing what he considered the stiffness of the generation that preceded him. "All the same, he was one of the most modest and kindest people I have ever met". He moved to New York join the New York Herald-Tribune in in 1962.
By then he had already published a number of ground-breaking books of his own, including "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test", in which Wolfe provided a psychedelic chronicle of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters as they experimented with LSD.
Wolfe started his career as a newspaper reporter.
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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.
When Yale's American Studies dons rejected his doctoral thesis, he wrote a pal: "These stupid f***s have turned down namely my dissertation".
Wolfe's other books include The Pump House Gang, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, The Painted Word and Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine, which includes his well-known essay about the Me Decade.
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In his space-race classic The Right Stuff - the American Book Award victor - he combined the emotional impact of a novel with the factual foundation of hard reporting. He is survived by his wife Sheila, the cover designer for Harper's Magazine, his daughter Alexandra, and son Tommy. He was 88 years old.