Sherman McCoy is a WASP, bond trader and self-appointed 'Master of the Universe'. He has a fashionable wife, a Park Avenue apartment and a Southern mistress. His spectacular fall begins the moment he is involved in a hit-and-run accident in the Bronx. Prosecutors, newspaper hacks, politicians and clergy close in on him, determined to bring him down. "The Bonfire of the Vanities" is a caustic satire on the money-feverish Eighties. This exuberant novel cemented Wolfe's reputation as the foremost chronicler of his age.
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After Tom Wolfe defined the '60s in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers and the cultural U-turn at the turn of the '80s in The Right Stuff, nobody thought he could ever top himself again. In 1987, when The Bonfire of the Vanities arrived, the literati called Wolfe an "aging enfant terrible."
He wasn't aging; he was growing up. Bonfire's pyrotechnic satire of 1980s New York wasn't just Wolfe's best book, it was the best bestselling fiction debut of the decade, a miraculously realistic study of an unbelievably status-mad society, from the fiery combatants of the South Bronx to the bubbling scum at the top of Wall Street. Sherman McCoy, a farcically arrogant investment banker (dubbed a "Master of the Universe," Wolfe's brilliant metaphorical co-opting of a then-important toy for boys), hits a black guy in the Bronx with his Mercedes and runs--right into a nightmare peopled by vicious mistresses, thin wives like "social x-rays," slime-bag politicos, tabloid hacks, and Dantesque denizens of the "justice" system. If the Coen and Marx brothers together dramatized The Great Gatsby, Wolfe's Bonfire would probably be funnier. Many think his second novel, A Man in Full, is deeper, but Bonfire will never die down.
You might find it interesting to compare the film The Bonfire of the Vanities, a fascinating calamity perpetrated by the geniuses Brian De Palma and Tom Hanks, with The Right Stuff, one of the very best films of the '80s. --Tim AppeloFrom the Publisher:
"A big, bitter, funny, craftily plotted book that grabs you by the lapels and won't let go."
-- The New York Times Book Review
"It's the human comedy, on a skyscraper scale and at a taxi-meter pace . . . . "
"Bonfire moves with a swift comic logic . . . . An innovative and imaginative and intricate plot . . . welds Wolfe's descriptions of dinner parties, restaurant games, Wall Street trading and courthouse chaos into more than a tour de force."
"Impossible to put down . . ."
--The Wall Street Journal
"A superb human comedy and the first novel ever to get contemporary New York, in all its arrogance and shame and heterogeneity and insularity, exactly right."
--Washington Post Book World.
"Brilliant--Bonfire illumines the modern madness that [was] New York in the 1980s with the intense precision of a laser beam."
"One of the most impressive novels of the decade."
--The New York Times
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Book Description CCV, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0099548798