Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in French in 2018, based on a 2017 conversation between Busnel, Talese, and Wolfe. Tom Wolfe died on May 14, 2018.

“You’re holding the most famous hat in the history of American literature.” Gay Talese grabs me by the shoulders and stares straight at me, his eyes shining with excitement. I have in my hands a cream-colored fedora with black trim from Jay Lord Hatters, the premier New York hatmaker.