A decade ago, The Bonfire of the Vanities defined an era and established Tom Wolfe as our prime fictional chronicler of America at its most outrageous and alive. Now the master is back with a pitch-perfect coast-to-coast portrait of our wild and woolly, no-holds-barred, multifarious country on the cusp of the millennium.
The setting is Atlanta, Georgia--a racially mixed, late-century boomtown full of fresh wealth and wily politicians. The protagonist is Charles Croker, once a college football star, now a late-middle-aged Atlanta conglomerate king whose outsize ego has at last hit up against reality. Charlie has a 29,000-acre quail-shooting plantation, a young and demanding second wife--and a half-empty office complex with a staggering load of debt.
Meanwhile, Conrad Hensley, idealistic young father of two, is laid off from his job at the Croker Global Foods warehouse near Oakland and finds himself spiraling into the lower depths of the American legal system. And back in Atlanta, when star Georgia Tech running back Fareek "the Cannon" Fanon, a homegrown product of the city's slums, is accused of date-raping the daughter of a pillar of the white establishment, upscale black lawyer Roger White II is asked to represent Fanon and help keep the city's delicate racial balance from blowing sky-high.
Networks of illegal Asian immigrants crisscrossing the continent, daily life behind bars, shady real estate syndicates, the cast-off first wives of the corporate elite--Wolfe shows us contemporary America with all the verve, wit, and insight that have made him our most admired novelist. Charlie Croker's deliverance from his tribulations provides an unforgettable denouement to the most widely awaited, hilarious, and telling novel America has seen in ages--Tom Wolfe's outstanding achievement to date.
From Chapter 2 : The Saddlebags
Almost exactly thirty-six hours later, which is to say, at 7:30 a.m., Monday, it was one of those brutally bright April mornings you sometimes get in Atlanta. Even up here on the thirty-second floor of the Planners Banc Tower, behind a sealed inch-thick thermoplate glass wall, with a ten-ton HVAC system chundering cold air down from the ceiling, you could sense the heat that would soon oppress the city. The conference room faced east, making the glare from the sun unbearable. There was nothing in front of all that plate glass to reduce it, either, no curtains, no blinds, no screens, not one shred, not one slat. Oh no; the whole thing had been carefully thought out, and everybody at the Planners Banc end of the table knew exactly what the game was.
Everybody, not just the senior loan officer Raymond Peepgass, knew this breakfast meeting was an elaborate practical joke, starting with the word "breakfast." Peepgass had made sure the whole lot of them ...
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