Tom Wolfe has died. There are many others who knew him longer and better than me. But I was lucky enough to have a taste of this brilliant writer and gentleman, one for whom the words ‘politically correct’ were anathema. Tom influenced generations of writers, there is not one among us who doesn’t wish she could imbue her words with the canny observation, sly wit and copious gift for narrative that Tom demonstrated over and over again. Tom was conservative, but it was a learned conservativism, one that harked back both to his southern roots and his wish to uphold certain standards. The white suit wasn’t just sartorial, it was a candle amidst the gloom and the everyday. Tom's fans weren't just his own generation, but had a reach well into the millennials where he was revered for his writing about the sixties. A few times he and his wife Sheila accompanied me on my forays into the art world. The vivid image of Tom at the Whitney, still confronting the contemporary artwork he found so challenging is one that will stay with me forever. Also pictured, Tom at the New York Public Library where his papers reside, with fellow writer Gay Talese at a Hunter College dinner in his honor, and with fellow Virginian, photographer Sally Mann at the Gagosian opening of her show and his wife Sheila. He will be very much missed.
All images by PZ