Tom Wolfe, 1931 - 2018

I think every living moment of a human being’s life, unless the person is starving or in immediate danger of death in some other way, is controlled by a concern for status.

— Tom Wolfe


As the man in the iconic white suit with a swaggering pen, Tom Wolfe has spent the past fifty years chronicling America’s status battles and capturing our cultural zeitgeist.
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Understanding the themes of Wolfe’s writings requires first understanding the form. Wolfe considers himself above all a reporter, a trade at which he worked for some 30 years before the publication of his first novel. The heart of writing, he insists, is “material,” or “what to write about.” A writer essentially has two options: use whatever material he has at hand, or go out and get more. The old saw “write what you know” highlights rather than resolves this difficulty.
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Peter Robinson engages Tom Wolfe in a conversation that ranges from the death of the American novel to the charming aristocracy that seeks to dictate literary standards to the intersection of culture and the latest findings in neuroscience.

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