In his reporting, first with The Washington Post, then The New York Herald Tribune, he pioneered a you-are-there, stream-of-consciousness, first-person perspective, which immersed both writer and reader in the narrative.
As a reporter, Wolfe became part of the new journalism movement of the 1960s and 70s, which featured the likes of Truman Capote, Hunter S Thompson and Norman Mailer. The film version of "The Right Stuff", about the Mercury Seven astronauts, was directed by Philip Kaufman in 1983. In 1987, Wolfe published "The Bonfire of the Vanities", a novel that also later became a film. He told CBS News that when he was starting out in his career, he was interested in fiction, but quickly found himself captivated by nonfiction. He first came to wide notice with the 1968 novel The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, an account of counterculture icon Ken Kesey and friends, aka the Merry Pranksters, traveling the country in their painted bus and the adventures they experienced.
In 2016, he told London's Telegraph: "I think young people today probably look back on that period in the sixties in much the same way as I look back on the 1890s, but it was a very wild time". As William F. Buckley, Jr. famously said of him: "He is probably the most skillful writer in America- I mean by that he can do more things with words than anyone else".
The NYPL is also planning a pop-up display in the same building this week to showcase a few items from the collection in tribute of the late author and journalist who died Monday in Manhattan at the age of 88.