Pioneering author and journalist Tom Wolfe will turn his attention from vanities to Veritas next month when he addresses graduating seniors on Class Day.
"He's bright, witty, and socially conscious, and he speaks with cynicism to the problems of the '80s," said Nina R. Schwalbe '88, the chairman of the Class Day Speaker Committee.
Wolfe, author of such bestsellers as "The Right Stuff" and "Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers," is considered by many to have created a new style of American journalism that challenges the concept of objectivity in reporting.
Wolfe's latest book, "The Bonfire of the Vanities," is about to enter its 27th week on the bestseller list. The novel, Wolfe's first, exposes the shallow values of a New York bond broker--and may have particular relevance to the lives of graduating seniors, said Schwalbe. The novel "talks to the conflict between social conflict and yuppie careers," she said.
"What are the choices that one faces when one decides to enter the world of yuppiedom? He can present them and people can think about them as they wish. We wanted someone who knew the meaning of the word 'morality,'" Schwalbe said.
In order to pick a speaker, Schwalbe said, the committee surveyed a number of seniors and compiled a list of about 45 possible candidates, which it eventually narrowed down to 10 names. While Schwalbe said the committee did encounter some difficulty scheduling a speaker, she said Wolfe was one of the committee's top choices all along.
"He's one of the most important literary figures in America," said Schwalbe. "From the '60s onward, he has addressed generational problems and made them into bestselling books."
"We're just psyched," said Richard B.Cooperstein '88, a senior class marshal. "We spenta lot of time deliberating on this. We wantedsomeone unique, unusual, and who had a message forthe class."
Part of Wolfe's appeal to the committee lay inhis humorous but not "frivolous" style, Schwalbesaid, noting that his writings often addressserious ethical issues.
Wolfe, born in Richmond, Va., recieved adoctorate in American Studies from Yale. He livesin New York and frequently contributes to RollingStone and New York magazines