The Bonfire of the Vanities

The Bonfire of the Vanities Sherman McCoy, The Central Figure Of Tom Wolfe S First Novel, Is A Young Investment Banker With A Fourteen Room Apartment In Manhattan When He Is Involved In A Freak Accident In The Bronx, Prosecutors, Politicians, The Press, The Police, The Clergy, And Assorted Hustlers High And Low Close In On Him, Licking Their Chops And Giving Us A Gargantuan Helping Of The Human Comedy Of New York In The Last Years Of The Twentieth Century, A City Boiling Over With Racial And Ethnic Hostilities And Burning With The Itch To Grab It Now Wolfe S Gallery Ranges From Wall Street, Where People In Their Thirties Feel Like Small Fry If They Re Not Yet Making A Million Per, To The Real Streets, Where The Aim Is Lower But The Itch Is Just As VirulentWe See This Feverish Landscape Through The Eyes Of McCoy S Wife And His Mistress The Young Prosecutor For Whom The McCoy Case Would Be He Answer To A Prayer The Ne Er Do Well British Journalist Who Needs Such A Case To Save His Career In America The Street Wise Irish Lawyer Who Becomes McCoy S Only Ally And Reverend Bacon Of Harlem, A Master Manipulator Of Public Opinion Above All, We See What Happens When The Criminal Justice System Gorged With The Chow, As The Bronx Prosecutor Calls The Borough S Usual Black And Latin Felons Considers The Prospect Of Being Banded A Prime Cut Like Sherman McCoy Of Park AvenueThe Bonfire Of The Vanities Is A Novel, But It Is Based On The Same Sort Of Detailed On Scene Reporting As Wolfe S Great Nonfiction Bestsellers, The Right Stuff, Radical Chic Mau Mauing The Flak Catchers, And The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test And It Is Every Bit As Eye Opening In Its Achievements It Is A Big, Panoramic Story Of The Metropolis The Kind Of Fiction Strangely Absent From Our Literature In The Second Half Of This Century That Reinforces Tom Wolfe S Reputation As The Foremost Chronicler Of The Way We Live In America Tomwolfe

New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 1970s.Tom Wolfe is also famous for coining and defining the term

❰Read❯ ➭ The Bonfire of the Vanities Author Tom Wolfe –
  • Paperback
  • 690 pages
  • The Bonfire of the Vanities
  • Tom Wolfe
  • English
  • 10 March 2019
  • 9780553381344

10 thoughts on “The Bonfire of the Vanities

  1. says:

    I hope Tom Wolfe has gotten so laid because of this book I hope women have put down this book, thrown on some lingerie, and walked over to his apartment unless Wolfe is gay, in which case, I hope men have done the lingerie thing I hope women or men invented a time machine to travel back in time and lay young Tom Wolfe because of this book I hope Tom Wolfe has gotten anybody he s ever wanted x ray, lemon tart, girls with any shade of lipstick imaginable, men with impressive sternocleidomastoid muscles Anybody Not that I m recommending everyone start stalking him Consent first, of course But, I wish on Tom Wolfe a lifetime supply of sex and ice cream because of this book I m pretty sure he s gotten it, but just in case, my wish is out there The idea of writing such a beautiful book kills me How does it happen How does someone put something this perfect together And I don t even want to know I just want to read it over and over again, mystery intact.This book made me scream and gasp and stop, sit, and stare This is one of the audios I listened to while I walked to work, so the neighborhoods of Eugene had the dubious privilege of waking to my shrieks and hysterical cackling for many mornings in April because of Tom Wolfe Towards the end, I had to listen in private, so that my sobbing wouldn t embarrass the neighbors or lead to a meltdown at work Mixed results.Wikipedia told me that Wolfe modeled his writing after Thackeray and Dickens It seems so obvious after you say it, but rather than realizing that, I just kept thinking, I ve never read anything like this before It was something entirely new to me And it is because it is a book that feels so current and urban, while it clearly has classical structure and the involved plotting of Dickens and Thackeray When I started, I thought it would probably be too dick lit for me because it was clearly shaping up to be so hardboiled and because I think of Wolfe being in a whole gaggle of male authors who want to talk about how tough it is to have a penis and be so emotionally unavailable Boo hoo I have very little attention for that type of thing But, this, this This was wonderful And it was dick lit, but it was not in the least self indulgent It was even cruel, it looked so hard, and so carefully, at masculinity and cowardice But, the structure of the plot was like a machine, just in the way that the plots of Thackeray and Dickens are I could feel the sweat and grease of the writing process on the page, or, rather, hear it in the audio track This book lives in the foundries of humanity it is crafted from the fires and steel of the human heart For the most part, this book looks at three horrible men and how their egos and senses of puffed up worthlessness control and destroy their lives There are a few brilliant recurring themes in the book that I could not love the white whale, the Masters of the Universe This book actually uses He Man as a recurring metaphor to this beautiful moment where a character, steeped in his own awesomeness yells out in his head, I have the power So, so, so, so, so, so, so wonderful.And the courtroom scenes Oh, the courtroom scenes Devastating swoon over those They made all the hairs on my body stand on end How can a person describe what happens in a courtroom Like THIS This book is what happens in courtrooms This book is what happens in criminal justice It got everything just right The belts and shoelaces, the defendants demanding rights, the defense attorneys running in late because they were in another courtroom, the hot jurors, the underpaid DA And oh my god, Kramer s sternocleidomastoid muscles Remember that It made me die laughing every time that came up I swear to god there is a DA like that in Lane County And the part where Martin and Goldberg have to give Sherman his rights Oh my god So wonderful And Judy.So, I have nothing insightful to say about this book because just read it Practically the minute I started reading it, it made me think of a dear friend of mine because of its urban steel and fire, so I will say something about that association because I can clearly only swoon and sigh and flail about when it comes to the book itself Like the men in this book, there is something strikingly normal about my friend when you first meet him He is white office shirts, a neat haircut, and clean hands He is success a house in the suburbs, two blond children, and a wife who, with a stern hand, makes the family take annual pictures in matching clothes And then you talk to my friend and find out that he is an evil genius, who has an opinion about everything and a hilarious story about everyone he s ever met But, you also know that the suburban thing, the normalcy, is true, too The layers of his personality include fire and steel, and also funfetti cake, white office shirts, and Kraft singles I think this book captures something of that kind of layered humanity in Sherman s office decorum, American aristocratic habits, and bloody knuckles It shows Kramer s powerful sternocleidomastoid muscles with his shopping bag and running shoes, Peter s head in an egg and landing of the white whale, Reverend Bacon s noble speeches and greedy maneuverings I think what I m trying to say is that it struck me recently, probably at least partly because of this book, that the characteristics we show the world are us, and are not us all the same None of us are inherently suburban or aristocratic, but our choices to appear those ways reveal something about who we actually are, who we are in the caves and recesses of our souls Sherman is equally the shallow, self involved Master of the Universe and the jungle fighter, but he is neither of those My friend is urban fire and steel, and he is suburban success, and he is neither of those Wolfe writes the show of humanity in a way that hilariously stages the show, and then digs and hammers into the caves and fiery core of who people are beyond it Are we the dog trained to fight or the social x ray in a party hive The little girl sculpting a rabbit or the little boy commanding an office Yes and no to all of that Who we are is something different entirely, but always there, underneath the show the force behind it And the way Wolfe builds it all and then tears it all apart I would never ask so much of a writer, but I am so glad this exists.

  2. says:

    This is one hell of a book When the Eastern Nebraska Men s Bibliophile Social Club a.k.a my book club picked The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what it was about and, ultimately, how it d make me feel New York The 80s Wall Street and Wall Street big hair and bigger cell phones Masters of the Universe and Greed is Good That s what I expected Frankly, it did not intrigue me all that much Well, The Bonfire of the Vanities is all those things But it is also much, much This is a big social satire on wealth, class, and race It is a legal drama It is at times a character study It is a snapshot of a pre Giuliani New York City, a New York City not that far removed from The Warriors Parts of this novel are blackly funny, but a real strain of sadness bordering on melancholy runs through it as well This is 659 hardcover pages written at an exhilarating, exhausting pace, in Wolfe s trademark style that relies on repetitious phrasing, homophonic speech, internal monologues, plenty of ellipses, and exclamation points than one cares to count The story at the center of this swirling storm is rather simple, and rather relevant Sherman McCoy is a wealthy white bond trader making close to a million per He has an attractive, interior designer wife, a young child that he loves, and a mistress that he tells himself he deserves One fateful night, while driving his mistress back from the airport in his Mercedes, he takes a wrong turn and ends up in the Bronx There is an incident one that leaves a young black man in a coma, a community baying for blood, a DA looking for votes, and an ambitious prosecutor looking to impress a girl That ambitious prosecutor is Larry Kramer, a Columbia Law School grad who lives in a tiny apartment, takes the subway to work, and wonders where it all went wrong, how his classmates all ended up in white shoe law firms while he shuffles to a Bronx courthouse There is a Dickensian sweep to The Bonfire of the Vanities Wolfe overstuffs his plot with colorfully named and memorable supporting characters, from Reverend Bacon, a Harlem activist and seeming Al Sharpton stand in , to Thomas Killian, a tough Irish lawyer who has forgotten criminal law than all the fancy firms know combined Despite the lengthy list of characters all of whom make impressions , Wolfe focuses on three McCoy, Kramer, and Peter Fallows, a drunk Brit journalist looking for a sensational story to save his career and always, in a running gag, looking for someone to buy him dinner and wine We only get inside these three men, meaning that despite Wolfe s attempt to give us a broad swath of society, we only see out the eyes of upper and middle class white males In a book that felt quite modern, the restriction of viewpoints felt like a throwback The Bonfire of the Vanities is probably most remembered for its sly dissection of New York City s upper crust That tends to undersell Wolfe s achievement His reportorial effort is this novel s real success There is, for instance, a bleakly hilarious dinner party that feels wildly surreal, but is so acutely observed that you re left believing Wolfe probably experienced something just like it And he isn t just focused on Park Ave There is a wonderful scene set at the courthouse where the prosecutor Kramer is musing on the Chow, the bus loads full of black and Hispanic criminals that are daily fed into the criminal justice system Wolfe s forensic probing of American criminal law is magnificent, and reads like something penned by famed street chronicler David Simon He takes you on an acutely detailed journey through the booking process that is savage, funny, and tense One of the wonders of The Bonfire of the Vanities is its tonal shifts It elicits chuckles one moment, chills the next At some points it is intimate and subtle at other points, it is broad to the point of a lampoon Take, for example, two separate scenes centered on Sherman McCoy In the first, he has an internal dialogue about not being able to survive on a million a year The appalling figures came popping into his brain Last year his income had been 980,000 But he had to pay out 21,000 a month for the 1.8 million loan he had taken out to buy the apartment What was 21,000 a month to someone making a million a year That was the way he had thought of it at the time and in fact, it was merely a crushing, grinding burden that was all It came to 252,000 a year, none of it deductible, because it was a personal loan, not a mortgage So, considering the taxes, it required 420,000 in income to pay the 252,000 Of the 560,000 remaining of his income last year, 44,000 was required for the apartment s monthly maintenance fees 116,000 for the house on Old Drover s Mooring Lane in Southampton 84,000 for mortgage payment and interest, 18,000 for heat, utilities, insurance, and repairs, 6,000 for lawn and hedge cutting, 8,000 for taxes Entertaining at home and in restaurants had come to 37,000 The Taliaferro School, including the bus service, cost 9,400 for the year The tab for furniture and clothes had come to about 65,000 and there was little hope of reducing that, since Judy was, after all, a decorator and had to keep things up to par The servants came to 62,000 a year That left only 226,000, or 18,850 a month, for additional taxes and this and that, including insurance payments nearly a thousand a month, if averaged out , garage rent for two cars 840 a month , household food 1,500 a month , club dues about 250 a month the abysmal truth was that he spent than 980,000 last year.This passage is supposed to make us sneer at Sherman McCoy and his absurd 1% er problems And we do There are several scenes pointing out the ridiculousness of Sherman s life how his career as a bond trader adds nothing to the world But Wolfe is not content with hammering this single dimension of Sherman s character Later, in a much different scene, we come along with Sherman as he visits his aging father to tell him that he is in trouble His father, a once successful lawyer Sherman refers to as the Lion , wants to help But time has passed his father, and Sherman recognizes that all his dad s old boy connections, his once vaunted reputation, none of it matters I n that moment Sherman made the terrible discovery that men make about their fathers sooner or later For the first time he realized that the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own and, as best he could, out of a sense of duty and, perhaps, love, adopted a role called Being a Father so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important a Protector, who would keep a lid on all the chaotic and catastrophic possibilities of life And now that boy, that good actor, had grown old and fragile and tired, wearier than ever at the thought of trying to hoist the Protector s armor back onto his shoulders again, now, so far down the line The Bonfire of the Vanities is studded with poignancies along with the social criticism It makes for a much richer literary experience, and one that grounds the ridiculous elements such as a man dying at a fancy restaurant, and the ma tre d forcing the police to take the body out a bathroom window in an elemental truth This is by no means a perfect book As I mentioned above, it is short on developing black and female characters The end is also far too farcical for my taste There are a lot of storylines that end rather abruptly, or are never resolved at all The imperfections pale in comparison to the accomplishment A panorama of an American city at a very specific time that nevertheless feels utterly timeless.

  3. says:

    What an amazing book Wolfe not only tells a great story but is a master of the English language and his prose is rich with multi layered metaphors, symbolism, allusions, and I was fascinated by the various references to Edgar Allan Poe I was sorry to finish it I must now watch the movie again if nothing else to highlight how pale a medium is film when compared to literature.A modern classic.

  4. says:

    R.I.P., Tom Wolfe March 2, 1930 May 14, 2018 Seer of Hippy Culture then the Insatiable 80s U.S.A N.Y.C.,Satirist of Avarice and the Cognoscenti Soi disant, andChronicler of America s Race to Space on the Heels of Its Jet Pilot CowboyQuest for Record Supersonic Speeds Bullshit reigns The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom WolfeA brilliant, shrewdly constructed satire of the 1980s in America, and particularly in New York City The Bonfire of the Vanities is big, biting and humorous Wolfe belted NYC USA with jabs, one after another each simultaneously ruthless and delightful burning the excesses of Wall Street, tabloid journalism, the social set in the Big Apple, high profile racial violence such as that in Howard Beach, Queens in 1986, the justice system, men s egos and their insatiable appetites for sex and their infidelities to get it, politics, politicians, vigilante justice a la Bernie Goetz who in 1982 shot up a group of black men who attempted to mug him on the NY subway and exploitative narcissists who parade as reverends, seeking self promotion and fingers in all pots flowing to and from community redevelopment.On satire, Thackeray so mordantly observed in Vanity Fair that The wicked are wicked, no doubt, and they go astray and they fall, and they come by their deserts but who can tell the mischief which the very virtuous do He was no doubt using the word virtuous loosely, in setting out to satirize European society in the late 18th Century Wolfe, who used Vanity Fair as a model here, did the same to 1980s America I love E L Doctorow s definition of satire, that its nature is to be one sided, contemptuous of ambiguity, and so unfairly selective as to find in the purity of ridicule an inarguable moral truth Wolfe audaciously accomplished this in Bonfire, mounting a mirror in front of New York City.The novel follows three primary characters Sherman McCoy is the chief character, an arrogant WASP bond trader who lives in a 3 million co op today, it would be about 6M on Park Avenue Sherman runs into trouble when he gets lost at night in the Bronx with Maria Ruskin, his 20 something voluptuous and sinerous Southern mistress Of him and just about every other heterosexual male in America, Wolfe notes, In this little room full of people he was suffering the pangs of men whose egos lose their virginity as happens when they overhear for the first time a beautiful woman s undiluted, full strength opinion of their masculine selves. Peter Fallow is a has been, acarine British expat journalist, an alcoholic who is trying to tread water at a NYC tabloid until he is fed a story about a good black kid in a coma, a victim of a hit and run in the Bronx by a white couple in a rich man s car The suilline Right Reverend Reginald Bacon a mix between the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton is trying to manipulate the tabloid into exploiting the racial aspect only Fallow is along as of an outside observer of the Manhattan and American culture, to wit Like than one Englishman in New York, he looked upon Americans as hopeless children whom Providence had perversely provided with this great swollen fat fowl of a continent Any way one chose to relieve them of their riches, short of violence, was sporting, if not morally justifiable, since they would only squander it in some tasteless and useless fashion, in any event Last, Larry Kramer is a Jewish assistant district attorney assigned to the Bronx He is being pushed by the media hogging District Attorney to make an arrest that will make a splash for his upcoming re election campaign, such as maybe arresting a Wall Street bond trader living on Park Avenue for running over a black kid in the Bronx and then running away Larry constantly questions his career path in public service and seeks recognition for something other than the obscure, low publicity cases he prosecutes every day in the Bronx Larry also seeks ardor in dallying around with an affair with an attractive female juror, right after the conclusion of a criminal trial SMH SMH.Nabokov observed that satire is a lesson and parody is a game Yet, in Bonfire of the Vanities, Wolfe has created a splendid satire that felt like a game, in being both fun and funny, as well as an enlightening lesson on the excesses of American culture, particularly in the 1980s.

  5. says:

    This book was a refreshing change from the introspective, thoughtful books I d been reading It had been a while since a book had me glued to the bed all day, lying on my right side or lying on my left side, with the A C turned on or with the A C turned off, wearing my shirt or not wearing my shirt, with the book in hand or without the book in hand, marveling at a particular turn of phrase or dreaming about juicy jugs and loamy loins a Wolfism This lengthy novel at 700 pages was a page turner to say the least and this wasn t because the plot was wildly inventive or the characters were oh so adorable I turned the pages for Wolfe Oh, bloody Wolfe Reading Tom Wolfe s prose is akin to subjecting your nostrils to heavy grey diesel fumes from the rear end of an ancient goods carrier truck acidic, overwhelming but also strangely, perversely pleasant if you are inclined towards such guilty pleasures He is a lyrical impressionist He uses unconventional adjectives and innovative phrases which make sense only at the end of a sentence And then too, not completely You only have the impression of what he means A very fertile impression I sowed and watered to reap a colorful picture of 1980s America He possesses the elusive qualities of an excellent satirist, that of unsparing, sharp observation In other words, he is the reigning king of the suave smartasses He brandishes a sword from his slovenly sheath every time he introduces a character and cuts him into delicious little literary pieces until all that is left behind is the most shameful of desires and the most hideous of hypocrisies As a result, most of his characters seem like arrogant, selfish little twits at the outset It is one of Tom Wolfe s great achievements as an author that by the end of the book, he had me sympathizing with most of them It s not their fault they are that way We are all hypocritical, we are all terrifyingly materialistic We re all the tightest of assholes Our inner worlds are equally fucked up These are the just the ones he chose to write about, the news worthy assholes But it is in no outright cynical vein that he writes about these buggers He finds them endearing, these cogs and kings scrambling for their own wants, using each other shamelessly Quid pro quo The New York spirit of bonhomie The Bororo Indians, a primitive trible who live along the Vermelho River in the jungles of Brazil, believe that there is no such thing as a private self The Bororos regard the mind as an open cavity, like a cave or a tunnel or an aracade, if you will, in which the entire village dwells and the jungle grows In 1969 Jose M.R Delgado, the eminent Spanish brain physiologist, pronounced the Bororos correct For nearly three millennia, Western philosophers had viewed the self as something unique, something encased inside each person s skull, so to speak Each person is a transitory composite of materials borrowed from the environment said Delgado The important word was transitory, and he was talking not about years but about hours He cited experiments in which healthy college students lying on well lit but soundproofed chambers, wearing gloves to reduce the sense of touch and translucent goggles to block out specific sights, began to hallucinate within hours.This excerpt merely hints at it and the title pretty much screams it out, but The Bonfire Of The Vanities is a lesson in humility, it s underlying theme being the lack of control we exercise over our lives irrespective of our wealth, intelligence, power or success, its distilled message being The Man can get to you before you can get your pants on It s an examination of the axes of conflict that run through a society class, caste, language, religion and gender Through its characters, it irreverently assesses the different realities we partake of, how our prejudices and our beliefs which no matter how we justify it, are nothing but a product of our station in society Man is inseparable from his environment, says Wolfe in loud, clear, refreshingly original words.We have the protagonist bond trader Sherman McCoy, self titled Master Of The Universe, star asshole of Pierce and Pierce, an exclusively white Wall Street firm He is wedged between a Social X Ray wife whom he despises not so secretly he can drop a ball from the top of her head and hit the floor without encountering anything in between and a Southern Lemon Tart endowed with luscious lips, undulating hips and exuberant breasts After a clandestine meeting with his Lemon Tart at the airport, he mistakenly drives into the Bronx Mean kids Pimp Roll down its grimy streets at night and men beat their wives with glorious abandon, certainly not a place for an eminent upstanding citizen like himself to be loitering around after sundown A stray tire is thrown in the way of his shiny Mercedes and he screeches and skids the car to a halt A fierce scuffle ensues after two African American boys slouch suggestively towards their car As they make their sweet escape from this attempted carjacking so they think , his mistress runs down one of the boys None of them bother to inform the police hoping the thing will magically disappear Of course it doesn t.The aftermath is a circus courtroom trial that takes us through the lives and minds of an ensemble cast of characters firmly hitched to the wagon on their individual roads to greater success a seedy alcoholic journalist Peter Fallow looking for the big scoop to revive his sagging career a Bronx assistant district attorney with rippling muscles and an inferiority complex Larry Kramer canny black political leader Reverend Reginald Bacon all of whom gleefully use this incident to further their own selfish interests Through these characters, Wolfe writes about a selfish, behind the back badmouthing America obsessed with image He cuts through the gloss and grime and reveals the petty minds of rich folk, poor folk, White folk, Black folk, Irish folk, Jewish folk, people who say doesn t, people who say don t, people who say tawkin , people who call Sherman Shuhmun, bros who Pimp Roll, people who laugh hack hack hack hack, people who go heh heh heh heh, people who go ho ho ho ho, people who go haw haw haw haw Ah, but then it s all so funny ain t it Wolfe certainly makes it seem so.

  6. says:

    This vicious satire on multiculturalism would never be published by a mainstream publisher today The only reasons it was in 1987 were that a Wolfe was already famous b Wolfe has a BASED Jewish judge lol laying down the law in the penultimate chapter though the judge s real motive seems to be misanthropic hatred of the mob and c It is written so cleverly that many readers will read into it whatever they want some leftists even interpret it as a satire on white corporate greed.Wolfe s sprawling novel has many themes, some of the important ones are 1 White ethnic disloyalty accurately, WASP ethnic disloyalty, as Catholic whites like Irish and Italians are shown as having ethnic networks, while the WASP central character loses all his friends as soon as his name is dragged through the mud this is the true meaning of the Savonarola reference in the book s title 2 The lying media One of the chief villains is a British journalist called Fallow supposedly modelled on Christopher Hitchens , and nearly all journalists in the book are treated as the baying, slavering pack animals they are 3 The Black Jewish rift Jews spearheaded the Black Civil Rights movement of the 60s, and were pissed when certain blacks like Farrakhan turned against them.4 The degeneracy of big cities like New York 5 The 80s stock and bond trading bubble, which burst right after this book was published Oliver Stone s Wall Street came out the same year A truly fantastic novel Highly recommended.

  7. says:

    This book was good but, as are all

  8. says:

    Bonfire of the Vanities is not so much one massive pyre but several large and closely situated camp fire like conflagrations Conflagration 1 Master of the Universe, bond baron and archetypal WASP Sherman McCoy, has reached the top of his particular tree and is enjoying the view from on high while ensuring that his chin is always seen at the right angle It is nice being at the top of things because well, lets face it, no one wants to be at the bottom The problem with being at the top of the tree is that there is always someone eager to knock you down In Sherman s case his particular tree is on Wall Street which means that there is a pack of suited and suspendered wolves baying at the bottom of the tree and even if they can t knock Sherman down themselves, well at least they ll be in line for a tasty treat when he eventually falls And fall Sherman does Although admittedly he does aid and abet his own downward trajectory by stepping out on the thinnest possible limb and has an ill concealed affair with a high class floozy who bangs about than a barn door in a high wind Add into the mix a hit and run after a wrong turning in the Bronx and it is surely game over Sherman Conflagration 2 Hot on his heels, in pursuit of justice for the underdog and a quick lay, is Jewish Assistant D.A Larry Kramer, a man whose ego is a lot bigger and brain is sadly a lot smaller than his sternocleidomastoid muscles But that is not going to deter him from making a big name for himself in the Bronx And why should he want to make a name for himself A pay rise so he can continue to provide for his wife and child Nope he s all about bagging himself a date with the girl with the brown lipstick it is little details like this that remind you this book was set in the 1980s Sadly its a case of non cogito ego sum for Mr Kramer Conflagration 3 Pitching in at ringside for the Bronx is Reverend Reginald Bacon, black activist, money spinner and all round voice for the people He wants many things, among them 350,000 in tax free money from the Episcopalian church which he is in no hurry to return and justice for poor young Henry Lamb, the victim of the hit and run or accurately, some careless reversing Bacon is probably the most canny of all the players and while he doesn t get what he wants, he comes of lightly toasted and not totally roasted Completing the racially and economically diverse, self serving quartet of protagonists is Conflagration 4 Peter Fallow, the seedy Brit hack who is shallower than a paddling pool Fallow has lost his literary mojo and allows himself to be manipulated through the coverage of the McCoy case as a way of reinvigorating his career His all time personal highlight is when Arty Ruskin, aged socialite and man about town dies at the dinner table of a high end eatery while he s in the process of interviewing him Shallow Fallow refuses to pay the bill, scoops the death story as an exclusive and outs the staff as heartless bastards who stepped over the dead man to carry on serving exclusive yuppie mini food Fallows end game is a new blazer and a Pulitzer and he gets both so he s probably the real winner The principle characters in this book are all men The women are either Lemon Tarts slutty blondes , mistresses normally a Lemon Tart , gold diggers, Social X rays ageing, thinning over toned skeletons in designer garb who were once Lemon Tarts or the stay at home, expanded ass, drab house frau Ladies, in this respect you may not find a lot to love On the other hand you can watch the gentlemen make fools of themselves which is fairly good value for money On the whole I zipped through this book faster than a yuppie in a Porsche 911 and much like being in a Porsche it was quite a nice ride Slick, shiny and satisfying The end was a bit of a cop out though and I am not sure that I approve If I had to summarise this book, I d say that this is what American Psycho wants to be when it grows up.

  9. says:

    Who but an arrogant fool would want to be a Master of the Universe Reading The Bonfire of the Vanities was my first experience with Tom Wolfe He had an extraordinary ease and facility with words He is erudite without being pretentious I also enjoyed his skill at writing chapter titles Some examples Saturday s Saturnine Lunchtime , The Last of the Great Smokers , Donkey Loyalty They are fun and apt to what the chapter details.This novel primarily focuses on three men Sherman McCoy a creature of Wall Street, breeding wealth , Peter Fallow a British journalist who was brought to NYC on a cloud of high expectations and has not met them , and Larry Kramer a self serving assistant district attorney for the Bronx Mr Wolfe brings the lives of these three disgruntled and selfish residents of NYC in the 1980s together in a seamless and enjoyable method in this text.Tom Wolfe writes the ambiguities of self perception with a keen eye I have yet to read an author who so expertly writes about the arrogances we ALL have about ourselves, but would never divulge to others, with such a perceptive perspective on it This is excellently illustrated in the text when we also get the contrast of what the characters think about themselves and their qualities compared to how others see them For instance, one character sees himself as witty and delightful company others see him as a loud drunk Mr Wolfe makes it clear to the reader that the accurate reality of these characters is the version of them that is seen through the eyes of other people.As alluded to already, Wolfe s characterizations are biting and frustrating in a good way Especially harsh is his scathing satire of racial hucksters in the vein of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson through the character of Rev Bacon This crook who uses racial politics to steal, self aggrandize and generally make the world a worse place for those he pretends to help made me angry to read, but its inclusion in the novel is key to the larger themes of how politics, media and class envy can pervert justice.Having said that, although the protagonist Sherman McCoy is unfairly treated in this text s conclusion you will have to read it for yourself to see how he almost deserves it on the grounds of his behavior Except disgusting behavior is not illegal It really puts the logical reader in a hard place In chapter 14 we watch as unmitigated hubris makes a man, who knows better, make all of the wrong moves in a moment that will alter his life forever Every wrong decision McCoy makes is prompted by his arrogance alone He even has the unmitigated gall to think, And whatever happened, he was morally correct nothing to fear from God As if he has God s hands tied That one line says so much about people s modern mentality.My major complaint with the text is the Epilogue, written as a newspaper article published 1 year after the events of the final chapter It is cheap and irritating In a word, I hated it Mr McCoy is the only character who really pays any price for his bad choices, and since almost every male character in the text makes an abundance of bad choices, I did not like the unfairness of it That was the point, I get it, but I did need it The text would have been better if it had ended at the conclusion of the final chapter.Regardless I read this almost 700 page book in under 2 weeks and enjoyed it every time I picked it up It is just as relevant today as it was in its publishing year, 1987 That in itself is enough to justify your attention.

  10. says:

    Well well, I find I never reviewed this one It wooshed back into my mind yesterday when I came across the hangover scene in Lucky Jim Tom Wolfe was clearly trying to go one better with the various hangover scenes suffered by his slimy English journalist character This is something that happens in art You like a thing, could be a movie or a novel, and then you find a chunk of it was an artful homage or riff on or nod toward or blatant ripoff of something you hadn t come across yet I would give you ten examples of this but it s late.This novel has a few problems, let s mention two obvious ones the movie, which is a hideous wreck, that is going to put you off, and the author, who can be a pain in the arse with his white suit posing and annoyingness Also, Tom Wolfe s writing style will not be everyone s decaffeinated macchiato, this perpetual speedy hipster high level ranting, it will be a problem if you don t like it Well, you might like it in small doses his great early essays but this is a whopping dose Also, he does kind of get a big idea about American society hey, it s really racist and class ridden and beat that idea dead, page after page Also, all said and done, this book is a cartoon, Tom Wolfe writes in cartoons It s not grown up It s a comedy Also, it s very passe, you know, we ve had Rodney King and OJ Simpson and Trayvon Martin, we ve seen all Spike Lee s movies, even the bad ones, it s all old hat This hat is old.But I thought this was a great top of division two novel, for all that If you have room in your reading for guilty pleasures, you could do much worse If Tom Wolfe gets you on his wavelength you will be lolling for a whole week.

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