You Know That Book Everyone Was Talking About Twenty Years Ago? I Just Read It


I can generally how I feel about a book about whether I look forward to the subway ride. While reading Bonfire of the Vanities, I considered playing Pong on the train.

That’s harsh, but fans of Bonfire of the Vanities must agree that the book is misanthropic and too long. The book picked up in the end, but there were characters and descriptions of 80s couture I could do without. That’s not to say Wolfe is wrong in his descriptions of egomaniacal bankers and self-righteous lawyers who take their wives’ aging as a personal betrayal, it’s just that I don’t want to hear about it. Human nature is shit, but why dwell on that?

My ex-step-cousin (my Aunt’s ex-husband’s son) once called Bonfire of the Vanities his favorite book. And no offense to him, I don’t see how a book like that can be a favorite. I enjoyed the first and last two hundred pages and I’m glad I read it, but B of the V was kind of like Atlas Shrugged for New Yorkers. They’re both engaging and thick books with writing that gets the job done, but ultimately the characters are just symbols. And at the end of Bonfire of the Vanity, but what’s the moral of the story? That Hobbes was right?