4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Sprawling... But largely in a good way...,
This review is from: The Bonfire of the Vanities (Picador Books) (Paperback)
Reading the reviews below, it seems Bonfire is a pretty divisive book... I myself picked it up about a decade ago got two hundred pages in and then jacked it in as a bad job... Something I rarely, if ever do... Usually I wade on to the end regardless.
It must have left some impression, though. I picked it up recently and devoured the whole thing in days.
For me the journalistic style and fast paced episodic narrative really worked this time around... Though that said the plot doesn't really wrap up well at the end... and I get the impression the author ran out of steam as he reached the finish line... One scene seems particularly contrived... Not to spoil it for some readers, but the death in a restaurant in the last 100 pages or so seems a little too convenient in drawing things to a close.
The characters are universally repugnant, as has been noted, but also incredibly well observed... And even at their worst they illicit sympathy and (dare I say it) some recognition from this reader.
I even felt a little sorry for Sherman as the plot unfolded. I'd like to think if Wolfe revisited that character now, 20 years on, he would prove to be a better man for the comeuppance he receives in Bonfire than he would've been if not.
One tip I would recommend is read it as fast as you can! This is a book that has to be devoured quickly for best effect... It's tightly paced and dense so if you let it drift it could start to be a chore rather than a pleasure.