Lee Quarnstrom remembers Tom Wolfe, a pioneer of 'new journalism'

Lee Quarnstrom of the Merry Pranksters talks to Tom Power about the legacy of author and journalist Tom Wolfe, who died earlier this week at age 88.
American author and journalist Tom Wolfe, Jr. appears in his living room during an interview in July 2016. (The Associated Press/Bebeto Matthews)

Author and journalist Tom Wolfe died on Monday, May 14 at the age of 88. He'll be remembered for books such as The Right Stuff and Bonfire of the Vanities, his magazine profiles covering people like the record producer Phil Spector, and his catchphrases such as "Radical Chic" and "The Me Decade."

Above all, Wolfe will be remembered as a part of a group of writers in the late '60s and '70s who changed the way people wrote and read journalism. "New journalism" was about creating non-fiction with the kind of creativity and storytelling that you'd find in a novel. This idea seemed new in the late '60s when Wolfe released The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, a book that takes readers into a world of drugs, music and some memorable characters known as the Merry Pranksters. Lee Quarnstrom was one of them.

Along with people like Ken Kesey, Neal Cassidy and Timothy Leary, Quarnstrom was part of the scene that Wolfe wrote about, and he was a writer and journalist himself. Tom Power spoke to him shortly after the news of Wolfe's death broke to discuss Wolfe's life and legacy as a pioneer of new journalism.

Produced by Elaine Chau


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