Book Review: Bonfire of the Vanities

What can I say about Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe?

Bonfire is considered by many people to be Wolfe’s best book and one of the best novels ever written. Even though I missed the 80’s, I was still captivated by his portrayal of New York Wall Street and racial tension and courtroom drama. A masterpiece.

According to Richard Ben Cramer in New New Journalism by Robert Boynton, Wolfe doesn’t produce masterpieces without trying:

I used to read Wolfe and think, "Well, fuck you! God touched you and made you a fucking genius, and that’s the end of it!" Then in the mid-eighties I walked in to the offices of Rolling Stone one afternoon and saw him working at a desk. He was writing The Bonfire of the Vanities in biweekly installments at the time, and I looked in his eyes and saw the haunted, hunted animal look I know I have in my eyes when shit is hitting the fan. And I thought to myself, "God bless you, Tom. You’re a working stiff after all."

Ah, we non-geniuses can take heart. Hard work does count for something. It even matters to Tom Wolfe.

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