The Bonfire of the Vanities Paperback – 7 Jan 2010
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"If there is a set-book of the Eighties, it is Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities. No other novel has achieved such a precise place in the imagination of the reading classes. With his first attempt at fiction Wolfe has become the 'Dickens or Balzac of his age'; the dandy journalist has become the towering genius" (The Times)
"Wolfe's modern morality tale displays the sardonic humour and sharp appreciation of the grotesque familiar to admirers of his non fiction... Savagely funny and compelling" (Guardian)
"The air of New York crackles with an energy that causes the adrenalin to pump, until one has the illusion that this is where the whole of life is taking place. The feeling is perfectly reproduced in Wolfe's novel, which opens such cans of worms as racial hostility, dress codes, political labelling and the cynical opportunism that governs every action. It's, well, electric" (Sunday Times)
"It's witty, sprawling and ambitious" (Daily Telegraph)
"Impossible to put down" (Wall Street Journal)
As influential as Martin Amis's MONEY and Oliver Stone's film WALL STREET, this is an exhilarating satire of Eighties excess and a book that captures the roiling spirit of New YorkSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
However, I've read it now and although I found it hard going at times (the writing style, the shallow male perspective, the only women in the book are very peripheral and are either wives or seductresses) I am actually glad that I decided to read it. It covers a timeless topic - that of selling your soul for short term gratification - and this topic is graphically painted across a city backdrop where everyone is selling their soul at some level or another. I quite enjoyed immersing myself in this world for a few days. It felt very real.
Would I recommend it? I think it's worth the read for a number of reasons - for the exploration of what it means to be a political football, to witness the creation of a media circus, to be given a picture of the cultural melting pot of New York in the '80s. All of this was illuminating for me and made the read worthwhile - so if you aren't sure about the story itself, read it for these reasons and see what you get out of it.
New York in the 1980's, like English society in the 19th century, its cultural and economic elite struggling to set themselves apart, to emphasise that they possess 'real' class, that they are not contaminated by overnight riches. New York where the rich compete to be admired, to be seen, to be respected for their style and savoir faire, a city where a designer apartment is de rigueur.
This is a New York in which Kramer, one of Wolfe's characters, can embrace relief when he discovers that he no longer feels inferior to their English nanny. Insecurity is at the root of elitism, whether it is the struggle to remain in the top echelons of society or to survive in the gutter. Adultery can be carried on with discretion, so can drug use. The rich strive to insulate themselves from contact with the lower classes, the detritus strive to insulate themselves from the law and their own deadly rivals.
Tom Wolfe produces a New York of hermetically sealed compartments, exclusive social groupings struggling to preserve themselves from the risk of contamination by others. It's a cultured world, fuelled by the dynamism of Wall Street, yet so different from the barrow-boy culture of Thatcher's London.Read more ›
Throughout the novel, the inimitable Wolfe style made me laugh out loud as it has done previously, however because it's fiction, Wolfe has free rein using plotline to comment on the ridiculousness of certain aspects of New York society .
Beyond the cleverness and humour of the story, Wolfe takes the social issues and makes you think twice about what is really going on. How can Sherman McCoy, the arrogant reptilian protagonist be the subject of your pity? How can liberality be the gaoler of truth? This ambiguity is what makes this a thought-provoking and memorable book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Great American Chronicle of Wall Street in the 1980s. Tom Wolfe proves a master at intertwining multiple storylines: a police investigation, Sherman's marital problems, the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Nadja
A tour-de-force. As well as being a rattling good yarn it is replete with unforgettable social observations which are a joy to readPublished 1 month ago by John Anderson
Bought for my son who's a voracious reader but hadn't read this. It's a really good, but flawed book. delivery on time and condition perfectPublished 7 months ago by alastair steel
I love this book. Having been to New York Tom Wolfe's descriptions of the city make you feel as if you are there - cheaper than the air fare. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Linda Hibberd
Seriously, this should definitely be on everyone's list of fiction to read - it's that good! The first half goes at a steady pace but the second half is speeds up, so much so that... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Terminator