New York City, no longer a “Bonfire of the Vanities”?

by guestofaguest · December 10, 2007

Bonfire of the Vanities

Its been 20 years since Tom Wolfe wrote "The Bonfire of the Vanities", a book that captured the vain and materialistic society of Manhattan in the 80s while showing the racial tensions between whites and blacks, upper class and poor.

Some believe that New York has come a long way since then, no longer The City of 'Bonfire' in Flames. Sure crime is way down, the city has undoubtedly become a more gentrified melting pot, and things are definitely on the upswing.

But not all things have changed...just taken a slightly different shape. Vain hedge fund managers and bankers (who think they are curing cancer over there on their Bloombergs and Blackberrys) are a dime a dozen these days.

The bond traders and investment bankers who populate “Bonfire” are passé now, Mr. Wolfe said, replaced by brash new hedge fund managers who meet clients barefoot, or in jeans with $6,000 belt buckles, as if to say, “You don’t have to like me at all, I’m merely a genius who makes you money.” [NY Times]

Al Sharpton is still around beating his drum, though he now dons suits instead of track suits, and of course Tom Wolfe, like clockwork, still wears white suits.

Tom Wolfe