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May 16, 2018

Rest in Peace Tom Wolfe: Five Fun Talks He Gave on Video

Author Tom Wolfe passed away this week at the age of 88. He was one of the leading writers of the literary nonfiction style known as New Journalism that was developed in the 1960s and 1970s. Always a pleasure to read, Tom Wolfe also gave some very enjoyable interviews and talks that we've featured over the years. Here are five fun talks he gave on video:

1. In Depth: Tom Wolfe

In this streaming video from C-SPAN's BookTV, Tom Wolfe talks about his career as writer from The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby which he wrote back in the 1960s all the way up to his latest novel I Am Charlotte Simmons which explores college campus life in the present day. He fields call-in questions from people across the United States and tells us the secrets of his craft. Indeed, few writers today are as fun to listen to as Tom Wolfe.

2. Tom Wolfe on Modern Art

For an amusing talk on modern art, listen to author Tom Wolfe in this talk he gave at his 60th class reunion at Washington and Lee University. In the tradition of his 1975 book The Painted Word, Tom Wolfe skewers the modern art world of the 21st century. He presents slides of the work of famous "deskilled" and "hands off" modern artists such as Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, and Marina Abramovic. He talks about the art world establishment as consisting of about 3,000 people who determine the taste and value of modern art. If you've ever scratched your head while looking at a work of modern art, then this talk might amuse you. It is available as a video through YouTube with slides that show the works of art which Wolfe is referencing.

3. 2000 Boston University Commencement by Tom Wolfe

Watch this turn of the century commencement address from the great American author Tom Wolfe. While most commencement address speakers urge students to go out and change the world and fight the system, Tom Wolfe reminds graduates to keep up the current greatness of America and of our tremendous wealth and openness as a country. He praises our middle class virtues and laughs at movie actors and rock stars and other "intellectuals" who tear down the ordinary virtues of America with satire and cries of indignation. Throughout the talk Wolfe gives some of his own hilarious observations on America at the turn of the 21st century. It's a unique commencement address from one of America's most keen observers and most entertaining writers.

4. The Word According to Tom Wolfe


In this 30-minute interview with author Tom Wolfe, he provides his two cents on a wide variety topics from the death of the novel to the latest findings in neuroscience. He gives insight into his book that he was writing at the time Back to Blood and his thoughts on contemporary immigration in America. Wolfe provides some of his political opinions such as his support of President George W. Bush, which has proved very unpopular in his social circles in New York City. While most critics predict doom and gloom for the American Empire, Wolfe feels that we are on the verge of many great American centuries. At the end he provides a little moral advice: "Be happy with what you have!"

5. Tom Wolfe: What's Southern Today?

In this streaming video offered by C-SPAN, author Tom Wolfe talks about the South as it is today. He provides observations about going to a NASCAR event, the origins of the term redneck, and the history of the right to own a gun in the South. Wolfe also fields questions from the audience about his career and he lets us know what he's reading now. This entertaining hour-long video is available on C-SPAN.org.