The Bonfire of the Vanities

The Bonfire of the Vanities

Book - 1987
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ISBN: 9780374115340
0374115346
Characteristics: 659 pages

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brettminor
Feb 14, 2021

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was the first book by Tom Wolfe I have read and I will be pursuing his other works. The story shows how the media, the courts, and the government are not always correct about the truth and sometimes don't really care. Politics, social influence, and public opinion often get in the way of justice.

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dennismmiller
Jun 14, 2019

Sherman McCoy imagines himself a Master of the Universe, spending his days making multi-million-dollar bond trades, or, as his wife puts it, collecting golden crumbs. Larry Kramer is an Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx, Jewish by birth but Irish by vocation, his heavy caseload and meager pay compensated for by fantasies of power and virility. Peter Fallow is a reporter for the City Light tabloid, struggling to stay sober long enough to write a story that will justify his continued employment. All of them are desperately trying to find, keep, and increase their place somewhere in the heap of humanity that is 1980s New York, the capital of the world. In their persons, the worlds of finance, politics, and the press collide, though in the end their defeats seem to possess more dignity than their victories.

In 2007, The New York Times published a retrospective on Wolfe's debut novel in which it crowed that "the New York of 'Bonfire,' to a degree that might well have shocked people in 1987, no longer exists." It is true, of course, that street crime in New York is far below the flood crest of the '70s and '80s, but street crime - as opposed to the fear of street crime - plays only an incidental part in The Bonfire of the Vanities, and the last decade has certainly witnessed a resurgence of social unrest and tribalism, complemented by an outrage culture endemic to social media and epidemic in the press, so that we seem more than ever to be living in Bonfire's jungle. For proof, one need only compare the treatment of Sherman McCoy by a fictional tabloid with the treatment of the Duke Lacrosse players by the actual New York Times. The same Qoheleth who informs us that "all is vanity" also reminds us that "there is nothing new under the sun."

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RoyalJellyIII
Jan 10, 2018

Terrific read that really holds up well 30 years later.

DMAGLibrary62 Mar 07, 2014

Boring, could not get into it

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vickiz
Dec 19, 2008

This is actually a great, rollicking read. I think the book's reputation has been overshadowed by the woefully miscast movie.

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Cabby
Nov 11, 2007

One of my favourite books

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crowpluto
Aug 04, 2006

This book has aged well. Themes still relevant today. Highly recommended.

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brettminor
Feb 14, 2021

Other: Heavy racial overtone throughout the book. Negative comments made about blacks, Italians, Mexicans, Irish, and many others. Racism and classism help to drive the story forward.

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brettminor
Feb 14, 2021

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Intense inner city scene of two people fighting to get away from a possible mugging. Frightening moment with the press when the antagonist gets out of the car at courthouse Angry mob near end of book is very intense

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brettminor
Feb 14, 2021

Sexual Content: Several sexual scenes. There is not a lot of details, but not suitable for children.

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brettminor
Feb 14, 2021

Violence: Several instances of violent mobs A few people get punched Threats with guns A person is hit with a car

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brettminor
Feb 14, 2021

Coarse Language: Lord's name in vain in various ways, shit, fuck , damn, etc

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brettminor
Feb 14, 2021

The Mayor shook his head some more. He found the Christian churches baffling. When he was growing up, the goyim were all Catholics, unless you counted the shvartzer, which nobody did. They didn’t even rate being called goyim. The Catholics were two types, the Irish and the Italians. The Irish were stupid and liked to fight and inflict pain. The Italians were stupid and slob-like. Both were unpleasant, but the lineup was easy enough to comprehend. He was in college before he realized there was this whole other set of goyim, the Protestants. He never saw any. There were only Jews, Irishmen, and Italians in college, but he heard about them, and he learned that some of the most famous people in New York were this type of goyim, the Protestants, people like the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, the Roosevelts, the Astors, the Morgans. The term Wasp was invented much later. The Protestants were split up into such a crazy bunch of sects nobody could even keep track of them all.

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brettminor
Feb 14, 2021

Yale is terrific for anything you wanna do, so long as it don’t involve people with sneakers, guns, dope, lust, or sloth.

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brettminor
Feb 14, 2021

There were Irishmen named Martin and Jews named Martin. There were Germans named Kramer and Jews named Kramer. But every Goldberg in the history of the world was a Jew, with the possible exception of this one.

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brettminor
Feb 14, 2021

Only twenty-nine, and already she looked just like her mother.

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brettminor
Feb 14, 2021

After all, she had given birth just three weeks ago. He was looking at the loins that had brought forth his first child. A son! She didn’t have her old shape back yet. He had to allow for that. Still, that didn’t make the view any better.

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brettminor
Feb 14, 2021

brettminor thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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