Monday, March 6, 2017

Tom Wolfe's "The Bonfire of the Vanities": Audiobook Review

The Bonfire of the Vanities
"You turn into a cipher"
Would you listen to The Bonfire of the Vanities again? Why?
Probably not, but I liked Joe Barrett's reading. It enlivened a book I read when it came out, thirty years ago. But I don't need to visit this story a third time.

Would you recommend The Bonfire of the Vanities to your friends? Why or why not?
For a period piece, a morality tale pre-Internet and social media, it remains a valuable dramatization of the pressure of what the 'flak catchers' Tom Wolfe profiled endured two decades later in the Bronx. This time, it's the legal profession, not the (other) bureaucrats.

What does Joe Barrett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Having enjoyed his reading of John Irving's "A Prayer for Owen Meany," Barrett here can show off his range of voices and accents as he has many more characters to work with. While the "haw haw haws" on Wolfe's page still grate to the ear here, the verve and pathos Joe Barrett brings to the protagonist, Sherman McCoy, deepens the novel and message.

If you could rename The Bonfire of the Vanities, what would you call it?
"Pin the WASP to the wall"--a phrase used by Sherman's persecutors

Any additional comments?
Ch, 22, a descent from the Dickensian satire into Dantean depths, is harrowing and very well told. One of the longer chapters, but the book generally moves along well. Despite dinner party chat in real time, and those Tom Wolfe elaborations of sartorial and decorative detail. (Audible US 3/5/17)

No comments: