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The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

Book cover for The Bonfire of the Vanities
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The story centers on Sherman McCoy, a wealthy New York City bond trader with a wife and young daughter. His life as a self-regarded "Master of The Universe" on Wall Street is destroyed when he and his mistress, Maria Ruskin, accidentally enter the Bronx at night while they are driving to Manhattan from Kennedy Airport. Finding the ramp back to the highway blocked by trash cans and a tire, McCoy exits the car to clear the way. Approached by two black men whom they perceive—uncertainly, in Sherman's case—as predators, McCoy and Ruskin flee. Having taken the wheel of the car, which fishtails as they race away, Ruskin apparently strikes one of the two—a "skinny boy". Peter Fallow, a has-been, alcoholic journalist for the tabloid City Light, is soon given the opportunity of a lifetime when he is persuaded to write a series of articles about Henry Lamb, a black youth who has allegedly been the victim of a hit and run by a wealthy white driver. Fallow cynically tolerates the manipulations of the Reverend Bacon, a Harlem religious and political leader who sees the hospitalized boy as a projects success story done wrong. Fallow's series of articles on the matter ignites a series of protests and media coverage of the Lamb case.

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