Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Bonfire of The Vanities

Just started reading this. Had to pay to renew my library card, for stupid political reasons I won't bore you with, and am now resuming my Star Trek fetish.

For some reason, I picked this up a couple of days ago, and finished it late last night. It had been long enough since the last time I read it that I had genuinely forgotten how it ended-so that made it an extra enjoyable read. Some of the images have stayed with me, of course-the attorneys biting their sandwiches and lunging forward to avoid dripping sandwich innards onto their ties, and the wonderful image of the hung over Peter Fallow with the toxic egg yolk of a headache dripping into his eye as he contemplates answering the ringing phone. Every time I get a headache like that, where you don't want to move your head, I think of Peter Fallow.

The passage that affected me most this time was the following:

"And in that moment 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 so that his child would have something mythical and infintely important: a Protector, who would keep a lid on all the chaotic and catastrophic possibilities of life. And now that boy, that good actor, had grown old and fragile and tired, wearier than ever at the thought of trying to hoist the Protector's armor back onto his shoulders again, now, so far down the line."

That's an image that will stay with me, now. I have always felt unworthy of the armor, and goodness, it's heavy.


  1. Thst was a great book. I read it in the mid-1990s, by which time it had become a "period piece".

  2. Isn't it excellent? I think I've read it four or five times by now.

  3. I read it once. Perhaps I should read it again. I read "A Man in Full" afterwards, which I quite liked but not as much.

  4. I read that, too, and Charlotte Simmons also.

    They're fine, but dont have the lasting value Bonfire did.

  5. My God that quote is gorgeous.


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