Nadav Spiegelman

The Bonfire of the Vanities

Author
Tom Wolfe
My last highlight
2017-07-25
Number of highlights
16

My Highlights

On the subway, the D train, heading for the Bronx, Kramer stood in the aisle holding on to a stainless-steel pole while the car bucked and lurched and screamed. On the plastic bench across from him sat a bony old man who seemed to be growing like a fungus out of a backdrop of graffiti.
An indistinct noise came out of the speaker. It might have been a voice and it might have been an airplane. Arnold Parch rose from his armchair and approached the Adam cabinet and looked at the plastic speaker and said, “Gene, can you hear me all right?”
On the wall of the courtroom, over the judge’s head, it said IN GOD WE TRUST. On the scorecard, however, it said CASE BACKLOG ANALYSIS, and a judge’s effectiveness was rated almost entirely according to CASE BACKLOG ANALYSIS.
There was just enough floor space in the room for three metal desks, three swivel chairs, four filing cabinets, an old coat stand with six savage hooks sticking out from it, and a table bearing a Mr. Coffee machine and a promiscuous heap of plastic cups and spoons and a gummy collage of paper napkins and white sugar envelopes and pink saccharine envelopes stuck to a maroon plastic tray with a high sweet-smelling paste composed of spilled coffee and Cremora powder.
Kramer watched with disgusted fascination as Andriutti lunged forward, over his desk, so that the pieces and the juices that squirted overboard from the hero would fall on the desk instead of his necktie. He did that with every bite; he lunged over the desk, and bits of food and juice spilled from his maw, as if he were a whale or a tuna.
Grimy concrete and black bars were everywhere, cage after cage, level upon level, a delirium seen through black bars in every direction. Every time a train entered or left the station there was an agonized squeal of metal, as if some huge steel skeleton were being pried apart by a lever of incomprehensible power.
Mr. Ed Fiske kept talking, gaining steadily in confidence and fluency. The drink had hit the spot. He unfurled his fanciest and choicest Harlem lore. What admiring British faces all around him! How they beamed!
There were Irishmen named Martin and Jews named Martin. There were Germans named Kramer and Jews named Kramer. But every Goldberg in the history of the world was a Jew, with the possible exception of this one.
Sherman woke up from a dream he couldn’t remember, with his heart flailing away at his chest wall. It was the drinker’s hour, that hour in the dead of the night when drinkers and insomniacs suddenly wake up and know it’s all over, this sleep dodge.
The larger of the two looked like a great slab of meat with clothes on. His suit jacket sat out from his wrestler’s gut like cardboard. He had a fat swarthy face, a Mediterranean face, to Sherman’s way of thinking.
Kramer was eating a roast beef that tasted like chemicals.
“No, I’m serious,” said Weiss. “This is the Bronx. This is the Laboratory of Human Relations. That’s what I call it, the Laboratory of Human Relations.” That was true; he called it the Laboratory of Human Relations.
You ever run into Willi?” “No, I don’t think so,” said Fallow. “But you know who he is.” “Of course,” said Fallow, who had never heard the name in his life.
He began to paint Fallow the view from the top of the mountain, ordering a second sidecar as he did. He painted with vigorous but vague strokes.
Ruskin managed to down two glasses of the fiery red wine with a rapidity that was startling, given the fact that he did not stop talking.
The light in the little space was intensely bright, so bright he didn’t even want to seek out the source, for fear it would blind him.