The Right Wolfe

Andrew Ferguson, Commentary, November 2012.


I was pulled up short the other day while reading an interview with Charles Portis, author of True Grit and other (equally splendid) novels. Portis worked as a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune in the early- to mid-60s, when it served as an incubator for the zippy, attention-getting style of nonfiction writing that became known, with minimal originality, as the “New Journalism.” Among his colleagues were Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, and Jimmy Breslin. Wolfe, says Portis, “was polite enough not to roll his eyes when I asked him if he was related to Thomas Wolfe. It must have been a tiresome question for him.”