Friday, February 5, 2010

Feel the burn.

Current book: Bonfire of the Vanities
Pages read: 351 - 421

Sherman definitely screwed himself over by acting guilty as hell when the cops came to see him, as we find out when the main investigators in the case report back to Kramer. Sherman was clearly nervous enough that Kramer wants to scrutinize him further, but the cops are a little stalled because of the lack of actual evidence.

Sherman is spooked enough by things to go to see the criminal lawyer that his family lawyer recommended to him back at the first meeting. The criminal lawyer, Tom Killian, is apparently well established in the New York City court system, and is owed a few favors by some of the ADAs, cops, and judges that he's worked with, which is lucky for Sherman, seeing as the populace of the city is baying for his blood. We don't know what's going on with Maria, because she won't answer Sherman's phone calls, but it seems likely that she's either hired her own lawyer and changed her story to put the blame on Sherman, or that's she's fled at least the state, if not the country.

Kramer gets a call out of blue from another ADA that there's a witness who wants to make a deal in exchange for testimony about Henry Lamb's murder. When they have the meeting with this witness, he tells a story that we, the readers, know is mainly cock-and-bull, though the truth in it is enough to corroborate the evidence they have so far about Sherman and Maria's actions. He basically says that Sherman just came out of nowhere and hit Henry, saw that he was injured, and then took off, when what really happened was far more complicated, although still not Henry's fault in any way. Regardless, the DA, Abe Weiss, gives the OK for Sherman to be arrested and formally charged, and it's only the fact that his lawyer is a friend of one of the ADAs that he doesn't get arrested, publicly and embarrassingly, at home. So, Sherman's arrest is imminent and it seems he's going to be made an example of, since Maria remains missing and Reverend Bacon continues to try to lead the black community in a crusade against racially-based judicial inequality.

So, a couple of things about the narration - first, Sherman spends a lot of mental time and energy mocking the speech patterns of the people around him, including his wife, his lawyer, and some of his friends. He often echoes things people say (just in his head, for his own personal criticism and entertainment), playing up their ignorant-sounding accents and their lapses in grammar. Far be it from me to object to criticizing grammar, but he's got a real high-horse thing about even slurring syllables or leaving out the occasional "the" or "of". It makes him seem like a complete asshole to the reader, which I'm sure was an intentional choice on Wolfe's part; he is a complete asshole, after all.

Second, Wolfe's got some kind of chip on his shoulder about people who exercise. Sherman's wife, Judy, definitely gets subjected to some critical narration for avoiding alcohol due to its calorie content and also for having breasts that have been rendered flat from too much exercise. I sort of thought it was a little good old-fashioned misogynism coming out at first, but we just met a new bond trader, and Wolfe described him as having "the haunted and gaunt athletic look of those who stare daily down the bony gullet of the great god Aerobics,"(416). Jeez, Wolfe. Lay off the fitness-bashing. (Really, Wolfe is offering some nice satirical commentary on the need for forced, artificial exercise that has arisen from the privileged and superficial lifestyle in which the moneyed class in the new American economy indulges. So maybe I'm only annoyed because it hits too close to home. Well played, Mr. Wolfe. Well played.)

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