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The Bonfire of the Vanities

I have two things to say about The Bonfire of the Vanities. First, it’s profoundly racist. Not that Tom Wolfe is racist, necessarily. I don’t know the guy. But there’s not a single sympathetic black character in a 700-page book full of black characters. If there’s a non-racist explanation for this, I’d like to hear it.

Second, who ever thought that this book’s description of the excesses of Wall Street would someday sound, well, quaint? I mean, Great Jove! Sherman makes one million dollars per year? That makes him… like… a millionaire! And try to imagine an I-banker worried about losing his job over one $6 million mistake. Are you kidding? That’s petty cash! HIGH FIVE BRO!!!

I guess I don’t regret reading The Bonfire of the Vanities as a part of my cultural education. It’s just that as a piece of culture, it hasn’t aged well.

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