• The Bonfire of the Vanities

  • By: Tom Wolfe
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 27 hrs and 29 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (4,590 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Tom Wolfe's best-selling modern classic tells the story of Sherman McCoy, an elite Wall Street bond trader who has it all: wealth, power, prestige, a Park Avenue apartment, a beautiful wife, and an even more beautiful mistress - until one wrong turn sends Sherman spiraling downward into a humiliating fall from grace.  

A car accident in the Bronx involving Sherman, his girlfriend, and two young lower-class Black men sets a match to the incendiary racial and social tensions of 1980s New York City. Suddenly, Sherman finds himself embroiled in the most brutal, high-profile case of the year, as prosecutors, politicians, the press, the police, the clergy, and assorted hustlers rush in to further their own political and social agendas. With so many egos at stake, the last priority on anyone's mind is truth or justice in this bitingly hilarious American satire.

©1987 Tom Wolfe (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A big, bitter, funny, craftily plotted book that grabs you by the lapels and won't let go." ( New York Times Book Review)
"Sheer entertainment against a fabulous background....Often hilarious, and much, much more." ( Kirkus Reviews)
"Erupting from the first line with noise, color, tension and immediacy....brilliant." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about The Bonfire of the Vanities

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Big mistake

Three hours in, and I began to realize what a colossal mistake I've been making with audiobooks. I've been giving five stars to lots of books, books I really enjoyed, books that kept me listening way beyond time to quit, well-narrated books, all of them the kind of thing I knew I'd remember for a long time. All those were good books, great books, maybe. But now, what do I do with this book? "Bonfire of the Vanities"? This book -- as written and narrated -- is so far beyond all those other books I've loved, what do I do now? Only five stars are available!

The other thing is, I could easily write a book setting forth all the reasons why this is the best audiobook I've ever listened to -- well, on a par with my other all-time favorite, "Angela's Ashes", which - up until now -- I'd decided was the only other PERFECT audiobook I'd come across. Now there are two.

I won't write a book about it, I won't even say much more, except for one thing: if you've read this far, and decide NOT to buy this book, you're a damn fool. This is the experience of a lifetime, an experience that will draw you in, wrap you up, and then spit you out 27 hours later, exhausted, limp with emotion, and knowing only one thing: you've got to listen to it again.

And as to Joe Barrett, the narrator, there should be a lifetime uber-superior award for his interpretation of this book -- he handled everything with perfection, the gazillions of New York accents, of every possible ethnicity, he slam-dunked the various complicated medical terms, not even Yiddish threw him off his stride. This book is worth it for the narration alone.

Buy it. Download, and click it on. You're gonna be missing the experience of a lifetime if you don't.

118 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

TEN STARS

THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES is perhaps one of the most entertaining audiobooks I have listened to in a long time. The reader, Joe Barrett, does a fantastic job bringing the satirical nature of the story to life and actually enhances what is a very well-written book.

Some may say the story is dated, but I believe it could very well fit into today's world of Wall Street greed, strained race relations, and two-faced politicians.

Tom Wolfe is one of America's best living writers, and this book ranks among his most popular works.

By the way - do NOT see the movie directed by Brian Depalma. It is a piece of garbage that in no way resembles this great work of art. If you HAVE seen the film, listen to this book. It will redeem your opinion of the story.

111 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The Reader !

This is one book -- and a fine one, indeed -- where the reader makes listening perhaps even richer and more enjoyable than reading. There are a myriad of voices, accents, personalities, and he renders them with brilliant sensitivity. A stunning listen!

67 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Engrossing, Well-Read Book

I can't say enough good about Joe Barrett's reading of Tom Wolfe's excellent book about "Yuppies" and the Bronx of the 80s. The audio book is 27 hours long, but went by so fast I couldn't believe it was that long. Somewhat outdated (someone said this book's view of the Bronx is as outdated as Tom Wolfe's clothes), but still highly recommended.

45 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great writing

I think Tom Wolfe is a great writer and I was totally enthralled with this audio. The story kept you going the whole time and never seemed to drag. I was also impressed with the narrator and the voices he was able to create. It was a easy listen, I highly recommend it.

37 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful

It is always such a treat when a great book is read by a talented narrator. The book is a brilliantly cynical parody of the 80's and Joe Barrett is one of the best narrators I've heard. He vocalizes each character so distinctly that sometimes it's hard to believe it is the same man. One of the best recorded performances I've ever heard and as soon as I finish this review, I'm going to see what else he's narrated and buy them all.

30 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Disposable literature at its best

That's a harsh characterization that is as true as it is misleading. It's true because Wolfe has written a book so deeply steeped in the specific era it was written that it only makes sense in that one context. It's also a tawdry story of little lasting literary merit. It's misleading because that tawdry story does in fact have elements of the universal in it, plus that plethora of 1980s cultural references makes it a charming time capsule of what things were like. This is a terrifically entertaining book. It's a vivid reminder of how much things are still the same and how much things have changed. Joe Barrett does a terrific job of getting all the voices and accents down right. Wolfe does a terrific job of portraying all the different agendas and the ambiguity of how a single version of the facts can be perceived so very differently by all the parties involved.

29 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

I loved the narrator, and the book

I had read this book when it first came out. I have read all of Tom Wolfe's books and this was and is oneof my favorites. I think the narrator did an outstanding job of catching all the New York accents. I highly reccomend this audio book.

27 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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One of the best ever!

Read this book when it first came out. Then listened to it many years ago and just listened again. It gets better and better. Brilliant writing and one of the best narrations I've ever heard. Joe Barrett is an outstanding reader. His voices truly enhance a very clever book.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

A Good Book, Badly Narrated

If this were not Tom Wolfe, I'd only rated this "1 star". Unfortunately "0" is not an option. This is a clear case in which "the messenger" (a/k/a narrator) SHOULD be killed! After over 100 audiobooks, I can tell you that a narrator can make or break a book, even classics and best-sellers. I listened to actor Elliot Gould completely ruin a Raymond Chandler work while "The Help" and "I, Claudius" were totally enhanced by the excellent narration. Here, we have a great story with a lot of drama, comedy and sub-plots made unbearable by the cartoonish reading of it. It starts out with a scene in which African-American's sound like a stereotypical merging of "jive turkeys" and a bunch of minstrel coons. Guess what? More of us talk like just YOU do in real life than we are given credit for in audiobooks! We aren't all loud and crass as depicted in those horrid Tyler Perry films. At least in the hard copy of this story, the reader isn't forced to listen to some narrow-minded narrator's ridiculous idea of how HE thinks black people sound. While this narrator is very good at mastering a lot of different voices for the kazillion characters in this book, his overall reading is too light and silly for the subject matter. His "sound effects" (crying, sneezing, laughing, snorting, etc.) are way over-done and disturbing to the ear, especially one held captive by an iPod earbud. One wonders if the editors LISTEN to these books once they are recorded or just shove them onto the public. I couldn't finish this book - I had to throw in the towel about 1/3 of the way in. Author Tom Wolfe's masterpiece deserved so much more. I think I'll just READ the book again or watch the movie.

20 people found this helpful