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The Bonfire of the Vanities Audiobook

The Bonfire of the Vanities

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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

4.1 (1811 )
5 star
 (849)
4 star
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3 star
 (259)
2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.2 (1297 )
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.4 (1292 )
5 star
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4 star
 (336)
3 star
 (123)
2 star
 (32)
1 star
 (38)
Performance
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  •  
    Dwain Sequim , WA, USA 04-28-10
    Dwain Sequim , WA, USA 04-28-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Terrific Read"

    I did not realize how broken I was until Wolfe showed me the light. It is important to be reminded that one cannot change human nature. And what about that narration!

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. R. Rothenberg 04-18-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not great literature, but fantastic narration"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    It's a page-turner, or the audible counterpart.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    There are no positive characters. It's hard to really like any of them, yet that's part of the fun Sherman exhibits some nobility and some growth -- that's all we can expect.


    Which character – as performed by Joe Barrett – was your favorite?

    Joe Barrett was absolutely fantastic. He did all accents excellently. Really brought the book to life.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Toward the end it looks as though the innocent will prevail -- but that's too much to hope for in Tom Wolfe's world where nobody is truly innocent. There's a Dostoevskian cast to this modern American novel.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 12-06-13 Member Since 2016

    I work. I ski. I play. I write. I have a family. I garden. I coach. I volunteer. I sketch. I run. I read.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Engaging story... Fast paced"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Bonfire of the Vanities to be better than the print version?

    I have not read the print version. I saw the movie after listening to the book. As usual, the book is better.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I like the intertwined lives of the characters.


    Which character – as performed by Joe Barrett – was your favorite?

    I like Sherman McCoy's criminal attorney.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I have no extreme reaction. However, it is highly enjoyable.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm going to look up more Tom Wolfe books.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean J. Stanley Baltimore, MD 08-20-13
    Sean J. Stanley Baltimore, MD 08-20-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Foghorn Leghorn Minstrel Show (still a good book)"

    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!

    13 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tiffanynick 03-16-17
    Tiffanynick 03-16-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Do you like the movie Airplane! ?"
    What made the experience of listening to The Bonfire of the Vanities the most enjoyable?

    The book is well written and the story has depth and is engrossing. The narrator can do so many voices it is unbelievable.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Joe Barrett?

    Probably not


    If you could take any character from The Bonfire of the Vanities out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Actually none of them. But I still liked the story.


    Any additional comments?

    Yeah... the narrator... He is obviously so talented in his ability to do so many voices but when it comes to any sort of minority it reminds me of Airplane! (the movie) Except that Airplane! was made in 1980 and is meant to be egregiously overt in its stereotyping. If you can sit through Airplane! without feeling uncomfortable you might not mind this reading. But, being that this was created in this decade... you have to think twice about this Audible.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    paul 10-31-16
    paul 10-31-16 Member Since 2016
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    "New York, New York, is a wonderful town!"

    This is a masterful, rip-roaring, careening portrait of New York in the 1980's. It is told in the virtuostic voice of the snide but oh-so-true verbal acrobat, Tom Wolfe. It is a gimlet-eyed collective portrait of 10 or 20 ... or is it 100? ... fleshed-out, colorful characters, and an entertaining story line that would make Charles Dickens proud.
    Not least, Joe Barrett's reading renders this multitude with a polyphonic verisimilitude that is captivating and impossible to put down.
    Bravo to both the author and the reader!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jarvis Jones 04-21-16 Member Since 2012
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    "A story for the cynical student of human nature"

    I loved this book. Looking through the other reviews, I see some some people love it and some people hate it.

    Some call it racist... And the characters tend to be caricatures of stereotypes. But that furthers the story, and every racial and social economic group is equally portrayed.

    Some say the story is slow, and the plot isn't that well developed. The plot isn't what makes this story great. It's the intimate portrayals of the main characters, with their many faults on full display. The way they preen, rationalize, and make themselves the center of the universe in their own minds.

    This is a story with no good guys. Read it if you love lavish descriptions of events and places, and if you like unflinching character portrayals.

    If you want a rousing quick plot and easily defined good and bad, look elsewhere.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Melton 04-15-16 Member Since 2013
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    "A great rollicking story, marred by a ham narrator"
    If you could sum up The Bonfire of the Vanities in three words, what would they be?

    A great contemporary story.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Bonfire of the Vanities?

    The main character's gradual descent into the maw of the lower quarters


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

    Maybe, but many of the voices he used during the narration of this book were so grating and annoying I felt like fast forwarding past them. The voice he used for the daughter Campbell would be an example - it was piercing and painfully irritating. The characters in the judicial system and the city jail were, down to a one, overly loud and obnoxious; too many times these voices sent me diving for the volume control. Just overdone, dumb, and annoying.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Bonfire of the Vanities and why?

    Sherman.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily 02-20-16
    Emily 02-20-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A great work, great narrator, but very long!"

    I enjoyed this book once it really got going! The characters are wonderfully done and there is such witty humor in between them and their perceptions of themselves. I find it interesting that this book is seen as an iconic 1980s novel, because I felt, reading it, like it could easily be about the present day. The excess of capitalistic Wall Street, the race tensions, the media's ravenous bad taste - it's all there!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol sonora, CA, United States 07-24-14
    Carol sonora, CA, United States 07-24-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "I could not make it to the 2nd chapter."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I have no idea.<br/>


    Has The Bonfire of the Vanities turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I don't know could not tell exactly what the genre was.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Like a black and white movie when they first became talkies. Over acting.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    STRESS!!!


    Any additional comments?

    NO

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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