Tom Barry's Reviews > The Bonfire of the Vanities

The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
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Mar 27, 12

Read in February, 2005

I really enjoyed this book. The cliche couldn't put it down applies, though it is a little overlong, has too many sub-plots, and loses pace at times. But the central plot, how a white New York trader has his life devastated after a chance encounter when he makes a wrong turn into a bad neighbourhood and apparently has a collission with a young black boy, is so gripping that i just kept reading. Wolfe doesn't really do heroes, but i was totally engaged in the tale of Sherman McCoy, although not a totally symapathetic protagonist, and what happens to him. It was all so plausible, that it was really frightening to think how an "innocent" person can have their life ruined.
But not everything in the book is "real". Wolfe is a satirist, so he exaggerates. But nevertheless he throws into sharp relief the "what's in it for me" materialistic culture of the modern city world. If you go driving in New York at night, stick to the freeways. If you need to go downtown, take a cab. You'll be ripped off, but you'll be spared the fate of Sherman McCoy.
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