Books »Bonfire of the Vanities

by Tom Wolfe (1987)

There are people who know how to tell a story and those who don’t. Tom Wolfe can tell a story. With an ear for dialogue, a sharp eye for details, and an almost tabloid journalism joy for exposing and wallowing in the character’s flaws, in his first fictional novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Wolfe is wry, smart and highly entertaining.

Little wonder that it was a national best seller that spawned a (reportedly terrible and definitely miscast) star studded movie.

The writing is Dickens by way of Richard Price. In less deft hands, lacking the dark sense of humor, this could have been a self riteous bore, but it’s crisp, witty and makes me want to read more from the well dressed icon.

Set in the mid 80’s Bonfire is the story of one Sherman McCoy, a Wall Street millionaire who ends up embroiled in scandal when he and his mistress commit hit and run while lost in the streets of the Bronx. Race, class warfare, politics, greed, and yellow journalism all play their part in this epic story.

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Posted on January 30, 2011

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