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The Bonfire of the Vanities

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Bonfire of the Vanities first editionFirst edition
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

First publication
First draft 1984–1985, Rolling Stone magazine

First book publication

Literature form


Writing language

Author's country
United States

Approx. 267,000 words

Notable lines

"And then say what? Say, 'Forget you're hungry, forget you got shot inna back by some racist cop—Chuck was here? Chuck come up to Harlem—'"

— First lines

It was all over. There was no hope now. The darkness closed in around them. And then I noticed the most peculiar thing. Sherman was smiling.


"What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses..." Ah well. There are compensations.


He did not discuss what happens when one's self—or what one takes to be one's self—is not a mere cavity open to the outside world but has suddenly become an amusement park to which everybody todo el mundo, tout le monde, comes scampering, skipping and screaming, nerves a-tingle. loins aflame, ready for anything, all you've got, laughs, tears, moans, giddy thrills, gasps, horrors, whatever, the gorier the merrier. Which is to say, he told us nothing of the mind of a person at the center of a scandal in the last quarter of the twentieth century.


Sherman made the terrible discovery that men make about their fathers sooner or later. For the first time he realized that the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own and, as best he could, out of a sense of duty and, perhaps love, adopted a role called Being a Father....


Mr. Fallow, winner of a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the McCoy case, could not be reached for comment. He was reportedly on a sailing vessel in the Aegean Sea with his bride of two weeks, Lady Evelyn, daughter of Sir Gerald Steiner, the publisher and financier.

— Last lines


Critique • Quotes • At the movies