Mind map of The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe


Tom Wolfe

I can emphasize with Tom Wolfe’s anti-intelectuallism and criticism of the art world. I tolerate his white suits too. I do hate however his inventing the use of present tense in profile articles (upon Ben Yagoda).

Police and emargency services in the field use the present tense to report an accident or an arrest for instance. Their descriptions read strained and clumsy. Poorly educated journalists resort to present tense when, in their minds, past tense sounds old fashioned.

The book


Bronx County Building
Bronx County Building / Gibraltar in the book


I read The Bonfire of the Vanities with the hope of remembering the 80’s. The noughties explain better what is going on nowadays that probably the 90’s do. For instance, the inability of Sherman McCoy to explain his job is bizarrely contemporary.  Trading with in the bond markets anticipated the antics of the Credit Default Swap dealers two decades later. The CDS fuelled the subprime mortgage crisis that in turn is still ravaging the public finances of US and Europe nowadays.

Life-inspired elements of the novel

Pierce & Pierce are Lehman Brothers

Tommy Killian is Eddie Hayes

Reverend Bacon is Reverend Al Sharpton

Judge Kovitsky is Burton Roberts


Mind map of the book

  • People
    • Sherman McCoy – bond trader
      • Judy – wife
        • Campbell – daughter
      • Maria – lover
        • Arthur Ruskin – millionaire
      • Gene Lopwitz / boss
      • Killian – lawyer
    • Larry Kramer –  assistant district attorney
    • Henry Lamb – victim accident
    • Kovitsky – judge
    • +
      Abe Weiss

      • Fitzgibbon
      • Martin
    • Peter Fallow – social life reporter
      • Gerald Steiner / boss at the The City Life
      • Vogel
    • +
      Rev. Bacon – swindler Harlem

      • Fisker – creditor
  • Zeitgeist
    • 1987
    • Ronald Reagan in office
    • Black Monday: Stock market crashes
    • Microsoft releases Windows 2.0
  • Places
Mind map of the Bonfire of the Vanities
Mind map of the Bonfire of the Vanities


The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe


Find about the film locations here and here

Compare the Bronx and New York of the early century with the same places in the 80’s

Read about the bickering between Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe

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