Tom Wolfe

“…Take those suits, which he once called “a marvelous, harmless form of aggression.” The great thing about them was that they were out of place everywhere, an all-purpose signal of self-alienation. He didn’t don beads for Ken Kesey or turtlenecks for the Black Panthers. That distance set him apart from other pioneering journalists, too. “Wolfe’s problem is that he’s too crusty to participate in his stories,” wrote Hunter Thompson, the most extreme of the participatory journalists. “The people he feels comfortable with are dull as stale dog shit, and the people who seem to fascinate him as a writer are so weird that they make him nervous.”

But Wolfe started wearing white suits to make other people nervous—wags of the Establishment looking down their noses at the antsy arriviste. He bought his first, white silk-tweed, shortly after coming to New York, in the summer of 1962. But it was too heavy, so he ended up wearing it in December. When people sniffed at his faux pas, he took their scorn as a badge of honor, and he’s donned a version of the suit ever since—throwing on a blue blazer when he wants to go “incognito.”…”

Tom Wolfe on His New Novel Back to Blood and His Fascination With the Down-and-Dirty Pecking Order



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