Throwback classic: Bonfire of the Vanities

bonfireIn Tom Wolfe’s wickedly humorous Bonfire of the Vanities (1987), an investment banker on a clandestine date gets lost in the South Bronx and sideswipes a young black man, leaving him seriously injured. The incident becomes a cause celebre,  driven by a manipulative minister, a district attorney seeking reelection and a sleazy tabloid reporter.  Wolfe has a reporters feel for every gritty detail of the criminal justice system, the manipulation of media and New York’s social hierarchies.  He also has a satirist’s eye for the weaknesses and vanities of human nature. Much of what he has to say still rings true. If you haven’t read Bonfire, you owe yourself the pleasure. It is “a funny, craftily plotted book that grabs you by the lapels and won’t let you go (NY Times Book Review).”  

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