The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is clearly a top-notch book for its rabblerousing racial-hate mob-inducing polemics that plays to both conservatives and liberals at the same time while convincing me that everyone in New York City during the '80s is some of the most hateful, despicable politics-led morons on the planet. I hated the socialites and I hated the mob of the people led by the nose.
As a whole, this entire book can only be described as the enthusiastic stirring of a huge steaming pot of poo.
Satire? Oh, hell, I guess it is, just so long as us readers look at it like the over-the-top circus of buffoons that it is. Some great writing, of course. This is Tom Wolfe. But I'll ALWAYS love his nonfiction best.
So what's my problem? It's neither the all-out skewering of a wall-street idiot or outright caricatures of the media, judges, lawyers on both sides, or preachers. In fact, since this novel, I've read and watched enough lawyer shows, good ones, mind you, that this book seems rather paltry and lame.
But here's the kicker. This came out before OJ. It's almost like a silly premonition trying to put a rich entitled WASP on a pedestal even if he never gets out from under the heel of "justice". I'd have to make a pretty long case on this, but the outline is pretty clear. They were both farcical and absurd for the same reasons if not for the underlying causes. And yet, the causes are just a flip-side.
Public perception, racial politics, wagon-training justice, and people being people. Out for blood and damn reality. And you know what? I DIDN'T CARE FOR THE MAIN CHARACTERS AT ALL. None of them. Not sympathetic in the slightest. I wanted to see everyone burn. But they didn't.
Instead, we had a three-ring circus of a satire that doesn't go far enough and the subversively-angled conservative arguments playing out in this text are laughable. The liberal caricatures are even worse.
Reading both sides of this just makes me want to puke.
So? It's a modern novel holding a big stick and stirring a big pot of poo.
For some, maybe it's as entertaining as a car wreck. But not me. There are MANY better examples of satire that work so much better.
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