- Taschenbuch: 704 Seiten
- Verlag: Bantam; Auflage: Reissue (1. November 1988)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 033030660X
- ISBN-13: 978-0330306607
- ASIN: 0553275976
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 10,7 x 3 x 17,4 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 100 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 557.240 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
The Bonfire of the Vanities (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1. November 1988
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After Tom Wolfe defined the '60s in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers and the cultural U-turn at the turn of the '80s in The Right Stuff, nobody thought he could ever top himself again. In 1987, when The Bonfire of the Vanities arrived, the literati called Wolfe an "aging enfant terrible."
He wasn't aging; he was growing up. Bonfire's pyrotechnic satire of 1980s New York wasn't just Wolfe's best book, it was the best bestselling fiction debut of the decade, a miraculously realistic study of an unbelievably status-mad society, from the fiery combatants of the South Bronx to the bubbling scum at the top of Wall Street. Sherman McCoy, a farcically arrogant investment banker (dubbed a "Master of the Universe," Wolfe's brilliant metaphorical co-opting of a then-important toy for boys), hits a black guy in the Bronx with his Mercedes and runs--right into a nightmare peopled by vicious mistresses, thin wives like "social x-rays," slime-bag politicos, tabloid hacks, and Dantesque denizens of the "justice" system. If the Coen and Marx brothers together dramatized The Great Gatsby, Wolfe's Bonfire would probably be funnier. Many think his second novel, A Man in Full, is deeper, but Bonfire will never die down.
You might find it interesting to compare the film The Bonfire of the Vanities, a fascinating calamity perpetrated by the geniuses Brian De Palma and Tom Hanks, with The Right Stuff, one of the very best films of the '80s. --Tim Appelo
"A big, bitter, funny, craftily plotted book that grabs you by the lapels and won't let go."
--The New York Times Book Review
"It's the human comedy, on a skyscraper scale and at a taxi-meter pace . . . . "
"Bonfire moves with a swift comic logic . . . . An innovative and imaginative and intricate plot . . . welds Wolfe's descriptions of dinner parties, restaurant games, Wall Street trading and courthouse chaos into more than a tour de force."
"Impossible to put down . . ."
--The Wall Street Journal
"A superb human comedy and the first novel ever to get contemporary New York, in all its arrogance and shame and heterogeneity and insularity, exactly right."
--Washington Post Book World.
"Brilliant--Bonfire illumines the modern madness that [was] New York in the 1980s with the intense precision of a laser beam."
"One of the most impressive novels of the decade."
--The New York Times
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The Right Stuff is the story of the astronauts of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, probably the most genuinely admired group of Americans during the 1960s. Wolfe follows a group of test pilots and their wives through their training and first assignments in the mid 1950s. Many of the early fighter jet pilots were killed in flying accidents, but this fraternity in general is clearly different from other men of their generation. The competition to excel as fliers has given them a different view of danger and success: being on top of the profession is more important than any consideration of risk. And the man on top of the profession clearly is Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager who helped create the whole ethos of test flying while working at Muroc Field (later Edwards Air Force Base) in the Mojave Desert in 1947. While still only twenty-four, he was selected to try to "break the sound barrier" in the Bell X-1, basically a rocket. Many considered the feat impossible (quite a number of pilots have perished in the attempt, Geoffrey de Havilland among them). Yeager, however, takes the task in stride. During a midnight horse race against his wife, just the night before the flight, he injures himself, breaking two ribs. The next day he can't hardly move his right arm. He knows that if he goes to the flight surgeon, he'd be grounded, so no way. The X-1 had to be carried up to twenty-six thousand feet underneath the wings of a B-29. At seven thousand feet, Yeager had to climb down a ladder into the X-1's cockpit, and then he had to push a handle at his right to close the cockpit door, which of course is impossible for him in this condition. But Yeager had anticipated the problem and his trusted engineer had secretly slipped him a nine inch broom handle. So with this added bit of supersonic flight gear Yeager went aloft and broke the sound barrier.
But in 1957 the Soviet Union launches Sputnik "Chrushchev's Comet," the first man-made satellite and the entire nation is in shock. The political leaders want immediate action, not to wait three or four years for an advanced X-1 type rocket, so they choose to take a "quick and dirty" approach, using existing Redstone and Atlas rockets. The endeavor, called Project Mercury, is put in the hands of NASA. President Eisenhower decrees that the pool of applicants for astronaut positions be restricted to test pilots. But the fraternity is less than exited, because they would not be flying, just sitting in a capsule without any control, as "spam in a can," as they put it. Still, many apply for the project and after humiliating medical tests, Pete Conrad, Wally Shirra, Alan Shepard and John Glenn emerge to a great media event. Tom Wolfe describes their different personalities, the technicalities of their training and the many problems with test rockets. Then Shepard is selected to become the first man in space, but that man turns out to be Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet cosmonaut. Project Mercury still presses ahead and finally John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the earth. The astronauts are now part of President Kennedy's circle, and thanks to their success, Kennedy commits the United States to putting a man on the moon by 1970.
This book shows Tom Wolfe at his very best, critical and not without satire, but historically and technically accurate, tough - in short it is great stuff.
In 1983 The Right Stuff was turned into a drama film by Philip Kaufman who also directed. It stars Ed Harris, Scott Glenn, Sam Shepard Fred Ward, Dennis Quaid and Barbara Hershey. Critics were quite enthusiastic and the following year The Right Stuff won 4 Academy Awards and got 4 nominations.
The book is also the portrait of a very specific period in American history, the 1980s and the rise of the ‘Masters of the Universe’ and their investment schemes. New York City is suffering from racial tension. Reverend Bacon, a black leader who can fill TV screens with demonstrators, intimidates the mayor and other white leaders. At the center of Yale man Tom Wolfe’s novel is Sherman McCoy (St. Paul’s, Yale) reminding us of Oliver Stone’s ‘Wall Street’ that also appeared in 1987 and starred Micheal Douglas. McCoy at thirty-eight is “going broke on a million dollars a year!” As the Douglas character he is the star bond trader for a leading Wall Street investment banking firm (probably he would be making a good deal more than a million, with boiler room tactics, but never mind), but his incompetence at personal finance has put him deeply in the red. Like the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ by Jordan Belfort, his house in Southampton, the four servants, the private school tuitions, the cars and clothes and dinner parties – are all a great mirage. All he cares for are appearances, sex and money, whereas his interior decorating wife, his decorative daughter and libidinous maîtresse just seem accoutrements of his success. In a certain sense of radical chic Mr. Wolfe seems to foretell ‘American Psycho’ by Bret Easton Ellis that’s also set in the late 1980s in New York City. Wolfe also mocks all the status madness but fires away without creating the killing spree.
Sherman McCoy who lives at the upper East Side doesn’t seem to know the city, he’s all surface and after picking up his lovebird Maria Ruskin at Jeffkay Airport he takes the wrong exit ramp and they become lost in their ostentatious Mercedes in the Bronx. Frantically they are trying to find their way back to Manhattan, and at an on-ramp they encounter two young black men in what they are sure is an attempted carjacking. In the course of the incident, Maria takes the wheel of the car, and they escape, not sure if they have hit one of the men. Well, they have and have even seriously injured one of them.
As the plot develops, McCoy becomes the victim of a social system that is based on power and an existential odyssey thru’ American jurisprudence. This is the power play of prosecutors like D.A. Kramer (a working slob) and Judge Krovitsky (a burnt-out case) who only want to further their careers and the mayor seeking reelection. McCoy’s biggest problem seems to be that he failed to make powerful friends or FLAK CATCHERS, so the press, the police, the clergy, and assorted hustlers high and low are at his heels, licking their chops and giving us a gigantic helping to understand the comédie humaine of New York City in the last years of the 20th century.
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