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Le bucher des vanites by Wolfe Tom

Le bucher des vanites (original 1987; edition 1988)

by Wolfe Tom (Author), Benjamin Legrand (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,853113776 (3.82)1 / 233
Sherman McCoy, a young investment banker in Manhattan, finds himself arrested following a freak accident and becomes involved with prosecutors, politicians, the press, and assorted hustlers.
Title:Le bucher des vanites
Authors:Wolfe Tom (Author)
Other authors:Benjamin Legrand (Translator)
Info:Sylvie MESSINGER (1988)
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe (1987)

  1. 20
    A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks (browner56)
    browner56: Interesting social satire that takes shots at the hubris of the financial services industry
  2. 31
    Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street by Michael Lewis (mcenroeucsb)
  3. 31
    Election by Tom Perrotta (cf66)
  4. 43
    Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: Great Expectations and Bonfire of the Vanities can be successfully tied together in that both the authors explore the themes of ostentation, ambition and morality
  5. 00
    The Devil's Candy: The Anatomy of a Hollywood Fiasco by Julie Salamon (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: It's about the making of a movie from this book. Whether or not you enjoyed Bonfire, if you read it and you take Hollywood movies seriously, you'll probably enjoy Devil's Candy. (On the other hand if you don't take them seriously, don't bother with the Salamon & go for the movie itself--it's not *that* bad.)… (more)
  6. 01
    The Darlings by Cristina Alger (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  7. 02
    The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (citygirl)
    citygirl: Skewers those at the top of the heap in NYC. Both quite funny.
  8. 03
    Brightness Falls by Jay McInerney (TheBentley)
  9. 14
    The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (ann.elizabeth)
    ann.elizabeth: Literary fiction focused on a controversial, potentially illegal moment and its aftermath, examined from multiple points of view.

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» See also 233 mentions

English (100)  Spanish (4)  French (3)  Hebrew (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  All (1)  All languages (112)
Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
A remarkable adventure with a coy, dark undertone that is brilliantly worked in by Wolfe. This book is 1980s New York at its grittiest, touching on race, prejudice, and moral and mob justice. Some weaker writing is constantly saved by sharp humour, and the grand punchline is not to be missed. ( )
  ephemeral_future | Aug 20, 2020 |
What an amazing book... NYC in the 1980s! The book takes you into the world of the privileged NYC upper crust. The collision of the privileged Sherman and the justice system and media is a timeless morality play. The book still resonates today. The issues are still relevant.
Pride, the deadly sin, also known as the "mother of all sins" is the main catalyst for all the problems that Sherman encounters, and it also leads to the downfall of Kramer and Fallow. The book brings you into the minds of these characters in intimate ways.
( )
  Chrissylou62 | Aug 1, 2020 |
I finished this last night, and I've been mulling it over all day. On the one hand, Wolfe is a talented writer, capable of creating vivid, visceral scenes. On the other hand, he relies on a lot of crutches, most notably the ellipsis-riddled paragraph to represent the frenzied thoughts of a person in panic.

Wolfe does a remarkable job of creating a bunch of horrible characters who we nonetheless end up having some positive feelings for at the end of the story. However, the reason we end up sympathetic toward the WASP protagonist at the end is the gross caricaturing of liberation theology and liberal activism on racial issues. The opening scene and the mirroring climax, involving black uprisings against perceived white injustice, evoke in the reader not sympathy or even understanding, but revulsion. This is the same feeling that Wolfe so savagely attacks in the rest of the book.

This mixed message results from Wolfe's refusal to pick one or two targets, instead choosing to attack everything: white fear, black radicalism, Wall St. greed, Ivy League (and all the institutions that feed the Ivy League) elitism, materialism, the obsession with image, the American lack of culture, European snobbishness, journalistic laziness and opportunism, the politics of victimhood, and America's vast reserves of inequality all meet Wolfe's acid pen. That's a lot for one book, and I think Wolfe would have been well-served to focus a little bit.

Aside from the lack of focus, a lot of Wolfe's criticisms seemed stale to me. That's completely unfair: it's not his fault I didn't read the book when it was fresh. It's not his fault I read American Psycho before Bonfire. It's not his fault I went to Hampshire. At the same time, if the novel is to be more than ephemeral, it must hold up to those of us who weren't reading novels in the mid-'80's. ( )
  wearyhobo | Jun 22, 2020 |

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. ( )
1 vote bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Fantastic read and probably becoming more and more relevant. ( )
  Conor.Murphy | May 27, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
So regularly is Tom Wolfe's brash 1987 tome described as "the quintessential novel of
the 80s" that you almost feel the phrase could be slapped on as a subtitle. But the ability
to "capture the decade" isn't the only measure of a writer's ability, and like a hot-pink
puffball dress, this story displays a blithe disregard for nuance.

Sherman McCoy, known to himself as a "Master of the Universe",
is a millionaire bond trader at Wall Street's Pierce and Pierce,
where the roar of the trading floor "resonate[s] with his very
gizzard". His mastery is punctured, however, when, with his
mistress at the wheel, his Mercedes hits and fatally injures a
young black man in the Bronx. The story of McCoy's subsequent
downfall is told alongside those of three other men, all
characterised by their raging ambition and vanity: an alcoholic
tabloid journalist desperate for a scoop; a power-hungry pastor;
and a district attorney keen to impress one of his former jury
members, the brown-lipsticked Miss Shelly Thomas.

Wolfe revels in the rambunctious, seething world of 80s New
York and brings to life in primary-colours prose a city fraught
with racial tensions and steeped in ego. The contrasting worlds of
McCoy and his victim, Henry Lamb, are vividly dramatised, if not
with great subtlety: rich, white Park Avenue versus poor, black Bronx.

At one particularly extravagant party, McCoy strays into a room described as "stuffed…
with sofas, cushions, fat chairs and hassocks, all of them braided, tasselled, banded,
bordered and... stuffed". Sometimes this big beast of a novel feels the same: dense with
research and bulging with bombast. Yet, it has to be admitted, it's also great fun.
added by browner56 | editThe Observer, Hemione Hoby (Jan 9, 2010)
The Nazi and fascist movements in Europe subscribed to similar sentiments. But, because Wolfe does not use anti-Semitic or racist epithets, the truly reactionary character of his societal vision is often unrecognized. The movie actually performs one important public service. By turning the book into a ghastly movie, the reactionary character of the book becomes far more apparent for all to see.
Sheer entertainment against a fabulous background, proving that late-blooming first-novelist Wolfe, a superobserver of the social scene (The
Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers), has the right stuff for fiction. Undertaken as
a serial for Rolling Stone, his magnum opus hits the ball far, far, far out of the park. Son of Park Avenue wealth, Sherman McCoy at 35 is perhaps
the greatest bond salesman on Wall Street, and eats only the upper crust. But millionaire Sherman's constant inner cry is that he is "hemorrhaging
money." He's also a jerk, ripe for humiliation; and when his humiliation arrives, it is fearsome. Since this is also the story of The Law as it applies
to rich and poor, especially to blacks and Hispanics of the Bronx, Wolfe has a field day familiarizing the reader with the politics and legal
machinations that take place in the Bronx County Courthouse, a fortress wherein Sherman McCoy becomes known as the Great White Defendant.
One evening, married Sherman picks up his $100-million mistress Maria at Kennedy Airport, gets lost bringing her back in his $48,000 Mercedes-
Benz, is attacked by two blacks on a ramp in the Bronx. When Maria jumps behind the wheel, one black is hit by the car. Later, he lapses into a
terminal coma, but not before giving his mother part of Sherman's license plate. This event is hyped absurdly by an alcoholic British reporter for
the The City Light (read: Rupert Murdoch's New York Post), the mugger becomes an "honor student," and Sherman becomes the object of vile
racist attacks mounted by a charlatan black minister. Chunk by chunk, Sherman loses every footing in his life but gains his manhood. Meanwhile,
Wolfe triumphantly mounts scene after magnificent scene depicting the vanity of human endeavor, with every character measured by his shoes and
suits or dresses, his income and expenses, and with his vain desires rising in smoke against settings that would make a Hollywood director's tongue
hang out. Often hilarious, and much, much more.
added by browner56 | editKirkus Review
There has probably never been a less prescient journo-novel than The Bonfire of the Vanities, which subliminally heralded a New York that was given over to wild and feral African politics at one end (reading from north to south of Manhattan Island) and dubious market strategies at the other. The market strategies continue. Indeed, Wall Street has almost deposed the opinion polls as the index of national wellbeing. The ethnic spoils system, meanwhile, is manipulated by the same class as ever. If either of these elements ever undergoes a dramatic metamorphosis, it won’t be Tom Wolfe who sounds the alarm.
added by SnootyBaronet | editLondon Review of Books, Christopher Hitchens
added by lucyknows | editscis (pay site)

» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wolfe, Tomprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carano, RanieriTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fastenau, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jukarainen, ErkkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lenders, BaltTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marcellino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verbart, GerardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Doffing his hat, the author dedicates this book to Counselor Eddie Hayes who walked among the flames, pointing at the lurid lights. And he wishes to express his deep appreciation to Burt Roberts who first showed the way.
First words
"And then say what?" (Prologue)
At that very moment, in the very sort of Park Avenue co-op apartment that so obsessed the Mayor ... twelve-foot ceilings ... two wings, one for the white Anglo-Saxon Protestants who own the place and one for the help ... Sherman McCoy was kneeling in his front hall trying to put a leash on a dachshund.
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Sherman McCoy, a young investment banker in Manhattan, finds himself arrested following a freak accident and becomes involved with prosecutors, politicians, the press, and assorted hustlers.

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