I read The Bonfire of the Vanities back in 2000 and I remember every detail from it so this was one of the few books that I did not have to re-read.
Sherman McCoy is a yuppie and one day while with his mistress he accidentally injures a black man and drives away. The victim of this hit and run is seen by a down and out journalist who whips up a media frenzy about this situation and even drags in a preacher, who starts riots within Harlem and other areas of New York so that the black teenager gets avenged.
By the end of the novel McCoy does get arrested but the only victor in this whole fracas is the journalist, who wins a Pulitzer for his document n the whole affair.
‘Bonfire of the Vanities’ is mainly a book about media manipulation but also focuses on racism and political corruption. Tom Wolfe drives his point home very obviously but his writing style is so good that you can’t help but turn each page compulsively. In fact my only complaint is that I felt that the ending was a bit rushed and could have gone on for another hundred pages or so (it’s already 800 pages but when a book’s so good page length doesn’t matter).
In a way I would say that Brett Easton Ellis’ American Psycho is the perfect companion to this book, for if you want to see how rotten the Big Apple can be then check out these two novels.