Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Bonfire of the Vanities

by Tom Wolfe

Wealthy Sherman McCoy has no idea what lies ahead when he drives to the airport to pick up his mistress. A wrong turn is the seemingly innocent start to a world of problems for the bond salesman. Poor navigation swirls into a perfect storm of awfulness, including a brush with highway robbery and a hit-and-run accident.

Wolfe quickly introduces the reader to the justice system in New York, which includes: lawyers, cops, judges, the media, and, of course, the unforgiving public. Soon, everyone wants a piece of McCoy, as his case will serve as an example for all, white and black.

Wolfe presents a fascinating and exhaustive look at crime and punishment in the big city. It seems that just about everyone stands to gain from the trial and conviction of Sherman McCoy, except for Sherman himself, of course. Sherman’s own process of navigating the legal system is intriguing and frustrating.

I really enjoyed this novel, though none of the characters are at all likable. I guess that’s what makes this such a good story. Everyone is flawed, and it’s just interesting to see who (or what) will prevail in this absolute muddle of justice.

Definitely my favorite book written by Mr. Wolfe.


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