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Tom Wolfe, RIP

May 15, 2018

Tom Wolfe is dead at 88.

I first met Tom Wolfe in 2013 at an event conducted by the National Association of scholars in 2013. Wolfe gave the dinner speech and I was, like a tourist,  able to  take several photos of him.

Before then, though I seldom read novels, I always read Tom Wolfe’s. I especially liked his debunking of the Upper East side, Left-wing culture, of Manhattan in Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers  (1970). A few years after that I lived about 45 minutes from Broadway and enjoyed Manhattan, the Neoconservatives as they came out of the closet of the Democrat Party, and just the life of a big city.

During those days I met many denizens of Manhattan, Hilton Kramer, Irving Kristol, Midge Decter, Thomas Molnar, Peter Berger and saw again friends I made when in college I met William F. Buckley. Those days from 1960 to 1980 were exciting times to be a part of the conservative movement, and my encounters with those persons prepared me to read and enjoy the life of Tom Wolfe.

One of Wolfe’s most endearing habits–in addition to his elaborate attire–was his expression of the idea that loss of faith in Christianity has consequences. He makes that observation in one sentence, and if you’re not paying attention you miss the equivalent of a gift wrapping that surrounds what he has just said. No successful author that I know would say something like that.

Wolfe was full of surprises. He chose Washington and Lee over Princeton. He attended a catholic preparatory school in Richmond, Virginia. In other words, Wolfe was a Southerner.  I have observed that the South gave us a superior literary tradition because in defeat after the Civil War, Southern intellectuals had to rebuild. They chose literature and did extremely well.

What a wonderful introduction into that world is the life and work of Tom Wolfe.

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