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“The Bonfire of the Vanities” was Tom Wolfe’s 11th book and first novel. Inspired by Thackeray’s 19th century satire “Vanity Fair,” Wolfe set out to capture the essence of high and low society in 1980s New York. The story centers on Sherman McCoy, a wealthy bond trader and self-regarded "master of the universe." His life is destroyed when he and his mistress make a wrong turn into the Bronx one night. Critics said Wolfe’s portrayal of urban class and race came as close as fiction could to breaking news. It’s the 25th anniversary of the novel, and this month’s Readers’ Review.
“Prologue: Mutt on Fire” excerpt from The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. The Bonfire of the Vanities copyright © 1987 by Tom Wolfe. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Picador and Farrar, Straus and Giroux.