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The Bonfire of the Vanities | [Tom Wolfe]

The Bonfire of the Vanities

Tom Wolfe's best-selling modern classic tells the story of Sherman McCoy, an elite Wall Street bond trader who has it all: wealth, power, prestige, a Park Avenue apartment, a beautiful wife, and an even more beautiful mistress - until one wrong turn sends Sherman spiraling downward into a humiliating fall from grace. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

Tom Wolfe's best-selling modern classic tells the story of Sherman McCoy, an elite Wall Street bond trader who has it all: wealth, power, prestige, a Park Avenue apartment, a beautiful wife, and an even more beautiful mistress - until one wrong turn sends Sherman spiraling downward into a humiliating fall from grace.

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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (1074 )
5 star
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4.2 (628 )
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Performance
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  •  
    PickAx Girl Northern Minnesota 10-03-13
    PickAx Girl Northern Minnesota 10-03-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Still works"

    Though the characters and their circumstances are a bit cliché, Tom Wolfe's observations have a real bite and still inform the current events of today, God help us... Listening to Joe Barret read is a marvel--loved his work on Owen Meany and this is even better!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beverly Jackson, OH, United States 03-11-13
    Beverly Jackson, OH, United States 03-11-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    104
    10
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    "Excellent all the way around"
    Where does The Bonfire of the Vanities rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I would rank it in the top ten, among Atlas Shrugged, Unbroken, East of Eden, Grapes of Wrath, Fall of Giants, Gone with the Wind, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    It's hard to find a favorite character. There weren't many admirable people.


    What about Joe Barrett’s performance did you like?

    The way he changed his voice, evoking classes and prejudices.


    If you could rename The Bonfire of the Vanities, what would you call it?

    A Perfect Storm of Classes


    Any additional comments?

    It was interesting to see some of the characters recognize their own faults, only to be unable to do anything about them.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer United States 03-08-11
    Amazon Customer United States 03-08-11 Listener Since 2009

    picky reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "This narrator is the best!"

    Joe Barrett narrates with great tone, speed and expression. Also listen to 'A Prayer for Owen Meany' for more from this narrator.
    This novel took me back to the 80s with reference to the lavish decor and excess shoulder paddage. Characters are well defined and interesting enough to keep one's attention throughout. Loved it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane-in-Colorado 01-29-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "add me to the list of people who hated this book"

    I gave up listening to this before I was even halfway through, when I realized I was having to force myself to keep listening. I kept hoping something would spark my interest, but once you wade around the foul language and the men cheating on their wives or plannning on cheating on their wives, there was not much left. I think the narrator did it a disservice with the over-the-top voice for Sherman, made him even more unlikeable and hard to listen to. If I could go lower than 1 star, I would.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Krasner 11-08-10 Member Since 2005

    I like books that have interesting characters and easy to follow plots. For example, Cormoran Strike, is a great character for me.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Better listened to than read"

    I read Bonfire of the Vanities when it first came out and liked it. I just finished listening to it and finally understood what Tom Wolfe was trying to do. This book is fantastic listened to. I listen to 100 books a year and this was one of the best that I've ever heard. I think Wolfe meant it to be read. The narrator was spectacular with all his voices and the characters all came out well developed and interesting. The end of the book was somewhat disappointing considering how great the first 99% was. Highly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Utah 08-27-10
    Amazon Customer Utah 08-27-10 Member Since 2009

    tired teacher

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Powerful Commentary on Our Society"

    Sometimes I really loved this book, and sometimes I just thought it was too far over the top. I did not like the swearing, but I understand why it was put in. I don't enjoy reading the expletives, however. Makes me uncomfortable. Aside from that, I think the writing style was great. I got a bit bogged down in it at the end, though. I actually thought the ending was disappointing. Maybe it is because I expected something else.

    I have heard about this book for a long time, and I now understand its title, which is a great title. I will probably think about this book for years. The narrator, Joe Barrett, was one of the best I have ever heard.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Swad 05-13-10
    Swad 05-13-10

    swadmeister

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent"

    Tom Wolfe can do no wrong and this book is no exception. Like his wonderful A Man in Full, his central character, Sherman McCoy, is spared no humiliation in his fall from grace right to the bitter end. The characters are many and completely fleshed-out, adding nuance from absolutely every point-of-view.

    Narration is excellent.

    (My only wish is that they hadn't botched the movie version so badly. This could be a wonderful piece of cinema.)

    Highly recommend.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia 10-16-09
    Patricia 10-16-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Great book!"

    This is one of my favorite books of all time. The writing is wonderful, and the story is really funny. I read the book when it first came out years ago, and I'm happy to say that the audio version is every bit as enjoyable. Highly recommended!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Byrnes Kissimmee, FL United States 01-26-10
    C. Byrnes Kissimmee, FL United States 01-26-10 Member Since 2008

    Christine

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good but long"

    I have never seen the film so I came to this book without any preconceived notions. When I was looking for a new audio book, I read some of the reviews and saw reviews stating it was read well and the accents were believable. I am not sure where those people come from but I found the accents very annoying and not at all correct. Being from NY myself, the exaggerated accent made me almost embarrassed for the reader who seemed to be trying too hard. The main character's upper class snooty way of speaking was comical to say the very least. That being said, I did enjoy the story and will rent the film to compare. I would recommend this audio book even if it was a bit too long.

    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jennifer light 12-06-11 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Too much "acting" at end of reading"
    Would you be willing to try another book from Tom Wolfe? Why or why not?

    Definitely.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Joe Barrett’s performances?

    Yes, the reading was great until the last couple hours. Then the reader started over acting for the characters and I thought it was distracting.


    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
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