Vintage Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities, the #1 bestseller that will forever define late-twentieth-century New York style.
"No one has portrayed New York Society this accurately and devastatingly since Edith Wharton" (The National Review)
“A page-turner . . . Brilliant high comedy.” (The New Republic)
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 1980s, a city boiling over with racial and ethnic hostilities and burning with the itch to Grab It Now.
Wolfe's novel is a big, panoramic story of the metropolis that reinforces the author's reputation as the foremost chronicler of the way we live in America.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
As he drives his Mercedes through the Manhattan streets with his young mistress at his side, hotshot Wall Street broker Sherman McCoy feels like he owns the city. But when Sherman takes a wrong turn and ends up lost in the Bronx, things go really, really wrong. Journalist Tom Wolfe’s first novel is a hilarious, scathing satire of ’80s New York that dives right into the simmering racial and class tension of that decade. The pace is quick, the plot is expertly crafted, and every character is larger than life. The Bonfire of the Vanities is the kind of book that’s made to be devoured over a weekend.
In his spellbinding first novel, Wolfe proves that he has the right stuff to write propulsively engrossing fiction. Both his cynical irony and sense of the ridiculous are perfectly suited to his subject: the roiling, corrupt, savage, ethnic melting pot that is New York City. Ranging from the rarefied atmosphere of Park Avenue to the dingy courtrooms of the Bronx, this is a totally credible tale of how the communities uneasily coexist and what happens when they collide. On a clandestine date with his mistress one night, top Wall Street investment banker and snobbish WASP Sherman McCoy misses his turn on the thruway and gets lost in the South Bronx; his Mercedes hits and seriously injures a young black man. The incident is inflated by a manipulative black leader, a district attorney seeking reelection and a sleazy tabloid reporter into a full-blown scandal, a political football and a hokey morality play. Wolfe adroitly swings his focus from one to another of the people involved: the protagonist McCoy; Kramer, the assistant D.A.; two detectivesone Irish, the other Jewish; a slimy, alcoholic British journalist; an outraged judge, etc. He has an infallible, mocking ear for New York voices, rendering with equal precision the defense lawyer's "gedoutdahere,'' the deliberate bad grammar (``that don't help matters'') of the wily ``reverend'' and the clenched-teeth WASP locution (`howjado''). His reporter's eye has seized every gritty detail of the criminal justice system, and he is also acute in rendering the hierarchy at a society party. He convincingly equates the jungles of Wall Street and the Bronx: in both places men casually use the same four-letter expletives and, no matter what their standing on the social ladder, find that power kindles their lust for nubile young women. Erupting from the first line with noise, color, tension and immediacy, this immensely entertaining novel accurately mirrors a system that has broken down: from the social code of basic good manners to the fair practices of the law. It is safe to predict that the book will stand as a brilliant evocation of New York's class, racial and political structure in the 1980s. 200,000 first printing; $200,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild dual main selection; author tour.
And timely as NYC dies and returns to violent mob rule.
Say what you will about the other novels,
this one is a keeper. Yes, the author has his prejudices, but the story is a page turner and rippingly told. It may reflect a time, but it should stand on its own as the years continue to pass. It doesn’t have to be a history lesson. It is an American tale.
One of the best books I ever read