A car accident in the Bronx involving Sherman, his girlfriend, and two young lower-class black men sets a match to the incendiary racial and social tensions of 1980s New York City. Suddenly, Sherman finds himself embroiled in the most brutal, high-profile case of the year, as prosecutors, politicians, the press, the police, the clergy, and assorted hustlers rush in to further their own political and social agendas. With so many egos at stake, the last priority on anyone's mind is truth or justice in this bitingly hilarious American satire.
©1987 Tom Wolfe; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"A big, bitter, funny, craftily plotted book that grabs you by the lapels and won't let go." (New York Times Book Review)
"Sheer entertainment against a fabulous background....Often hilarious, and much, much more." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Erupting from the first line with noise, color, tension and immediacy....brilliant." (Publishers Weekly)
Audible Member Since 2003
THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES is perhaps one of the most entertaining audiobooks I have listened to in a long time. The reader, Joe Barrett, does a fantastic job bringing the satirical nature of the story to life and actually enhances what is a very well-written book.
Some may say the story is dated, but I believe it could very well fit into today's world of Wall Street greed, strained race relations, and two-faced politicians.
Tom Wolfe is one of America's best living writers, and this book ranks among his most popular works.
By the way - do NOT see the movie directed by Brian Depalma. It is a piece of garbage that in no way resembles this great work of art. If you HAVE seen the film, listen to this book. It will redeem your opinion of the story.
I think Tom Wolfe is a great writer and I was totally enthralled with this audio. The story kept you going the whole time and never seemed to drag. I was also impressed with the narrator and the voices he was able to create. It was a easy listen, I highly recommend it.
professor. like great and VERY good books, fiction and history, mainly
This is one book -- and a fine one, indeed -- where the reader makes listening perhaps even richer and more enjoyable than reading. There are a myriad of voices, accents, personalities, and he renders them with brilliant sensitivity. A stunning listen!
I can't say enough good about Joe Barrett's reading of Tom Wolfe's excellent book about "Yuppies" and the Bronx of the 80s. The audio book is 27 hours long, but went by so fast I couldn't believe it was that long. Somewhat outdated (someone said this book's view of the Bronx is as outdated as Tom Wolfe's clothes), but still highly recommended.
I had read this book when it first came out. I have read all of Tom Wolfe's books and this was and is oneof my favorites. I think the narrator did an outstanding job of catching all the New York accents. I highly reccomend this audio book.
Read this book when it first came out. Then listened to it many years ago and just listened again. It gets better and better. Brilliant writing and one of the best narrations I've ever heard. Joe Barrett is an outstanding reader. His voices truly enhance a very clever book.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
That's a harsh characterization that is as true as it is misleading. It's true because Wolfe has written a book so deeply steeped in the specific era it was written that it only makes sense in that one context. It's also a tawdry story of little lasting literary merit. It's misleading because that tawdry story does in fact have elements of the universal in it, plus that plethora of 1980s cultural references makes it a charming time capsule of what things were like. This is a terrifically entertaining book. It's a vivid reminder of how much things are still the same and how much things have changed. Joe Barrett does a terrific job of getting all the voices and accents down right. Wolfe does a terrific job of portraying all the different agendas and the ambiguity of how a single version of the facts can be perceived so very differently by all the parties involved.
It is always such a treat when a great book is read by a talented narrator. The book is a brilliantly cynical parody of the 80's and Joe Barrett is one of the best narrators I've heard. He vocalizes each character so distinctly that sometimes it's hard to believe it is the same man. One of the best recorded performances I've ever heard and as soon as I finish this review, I'm going to see what else he's narrated and buy them all.
Tom Wolfe is top notch. Here is a fascinating story of race, politics, human capital, and the struggle of life, both ordinary and extraordinary, told from myriad perspectives. Nearly thirty years after its initial publication, the themes explored by the book will strike familiar chords in the wake of Enron, Lehman Brothers, and Anthony Wiener. The privileged screwing over the poor, self-destructive narcissism, the perils of ambition- all are present and examined with Wolfe's trademark low-key wit.
Ironic then that Joe Barrett's atrocious, arguably racist performance of the book will leave the listener scratching their head with questions related to the "post-racial" society in which it was recorded. White characters, including those with British, Bronx, and Yiddish accents are well within his wheelhouse and he performs these with aplomb. But when charged with rendering accurate portrayals of Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities, Barrett reverts to a comical southern drawl somewhere between Foghorn Leghorn and Uncle Remus. If you doubt my assessment, simply listen to the first five minutes in which the put-upon Mayor of New York is lambasted by Harlem hecklers, rendered in a dialect that makes the Black Crows from "Dumbo" seem like Jane Elliott by comparison.
I don't blame Barrett; he's a decent reader. His other work is better and this book was a real challenge. But the producers at Blackstone should be ashamed. It is unbelievable that this recording was produced in 2009 and released as-is. There are plenty of other performers (Dion Graham comes to mind) who could have delivered a better experience. Then again, considering that most audiobook listeners are White, affluent, and well-educated (including yours truly), it's no big surprise that the production values mirror the general indifference of the target demographic.
But not all is lost. At first, I was annoyed that the performance was distracting me from the content of the novel. But then the failings of the recording began to mirror the issues raised in the novel and I came to enjoy, even relish the surreal, recursive experience. Marshall McLuhan was right- the medium is the message, and that message is Ouroboros the snake, choking on its own racist tail from high above the digital divide. Hooray for the future!
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