NEW YORK: Award-winning author Tom Wolfe, the white-suited wizard of “New Journalism” who wrote The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Right Stuff before turning his satiric wit to such novels as The Bonfire of the Vanities and A Man in Full, has died. He was 88.

Wolfe’s literary agent, Lynn Nesbit, told the Associated Press that he died of an infection Monday in a New York City hospital.

An acolyte of French novelist Emile Zola and other authors of “realistic” fiction, the stylishly attired Wolfe was an American maverick who insisted that the only way to tell a great story was to go out and report it. Along with Gay Talese, Truman Capote and Nora Ephron, he helped demonstrate that journalism could offer the kinds of literary pleasure found in books.

His hyperbolic, stylized writing work was a gleeful fusillade of exclamation points, italics and improbable words. An ingenious phrase maker, he helped brand such expressions as “radical chic” for rich liberals’ fascination with revolutionaries; and the “Me” generation, defining the self-absorbed baby boomers of the 1970s.

Wolfe was both a literary upstart, sneering at the perceived stuffiness of the publishing establishment, and an old-school gentleman who went to the best schools and encouraged Michael Lewis and other younger writers. When attending promotional luncheons with fellow authors, he would make a point of reading their latest work.

“What I hope people know about him is that he was a sweet and generous man,” Lewis, known for such books as Money­ball and The Big Short, told the AP in an email Tuesday. “Not just a great writer but a great soul. He didn’t just help me to become a writer. He did it with pleasure.”

Wolfe scorned the reluctance of U.S. writers to confront social issues and warned that self-absorption and master’s programs would kill novels.

He was astonished that no author of his generation had written a sweeping, 19th century style novel about contemporary New York City, and ended up writing one himself, The Bonfire of the Vanities.

His work broke countless rules but was grounded in old-school journalism, in an obsessive attention to detail that began with his first reporting job and endured for decades.

His literary honors included the American Book Award (now the National Book Award).

In 1978, Wolfe married Sheila Berger, art director of Harper’s magazine. They had two children, Alexandra and Tommy.