Thursday, February 4, 2010

The police, who investigate crimes

Current book: Bonfire of the Vanities
Pages read: 221 - 351

Well, Peter Fallow successfully makes the hit-and-run into a news story, backed by the strident attention-mongering of Reverend Bacon, and Sherman, seeing the articles about it in the papers, pretty much freaks out. He talks to Maria about it, but she urges him to keep his cool - so far, there's no real evidence against the two of them specifically. The cops have a make and colour of car, and one-and-a-half license plate letters, and that's all. Sherman wants to go to the authorities and explain, but Maria, who was the one driving at the time of the hit-and-run, says it's her decision to make, not his.

Our ambitious young DA, Kramer, gets together with the Girl with Brown Lipstick and begins making the overtures to an affair with her. (It's less sketchy than it could be, seeing as the case that she was a juror for is over, but it's still a bit unethical, and definitely immoral.) It's clear that she's interested in him, though it remains to be seen whether she's aware that he's married and has an infant son. On the professional front, Kramer has been saddled with the Henry Lamb case and is growing increasingly exasperated about the media attention it's getting, especially since their leads aren't particularly good, but he dutifully sends out investigators to check on every black Mercedes with the appropriate license plate numbers. That, of course, means that the investigators eventually pay a visit to Sherman.

Sherman, in the meantime, goes to see a lawyer, who tells him he might want to keep quiet about the accident, seeing as it's likely that Maria will turn on him and say he was driving if he goes to the cops. When the cops show up, therefore, he's immediately stricken with the desire to tell the truth, but instead keeps mum about it and just acts absurdly guilty: he won't let them see the car and he's extremely agitated during the interview. (Now, far be it from me to agree with the idea that the innocent have nothing to fear, but man. If he'd just showed them the car and been normal for five seconds, they would have gone away and never suspected a thing. Instead, my guess is they're coming back. With a warrant. It's not going to be pretty.)

The whole situation has distracted Sherman at work to the extent that he's lost millions of dollars worth of bond-trading deals, so he's also preoccupied about losing his job and certainly his reputation. In this state, and just after the interview with the police, Sherman and Judy attend a dinner party at which, in a nasty shock for Sherman, Maria and her husband are also present. (I wasn't aware, until this point, that Maria was married. Clearly my interpretation of her as a low-class single woman was incorrect. She's actually a low-class golddigger who's become a wealthy trophy wife. My bad.) Through a stroke of ill fortune, Maria and Sherman are seated next to each other at dinner, and he haltingly tells her about the police visit. She maintains her position that they should keep quiet, since, even though he's a complete fuckup, the cops haven't actually got any evidence about the situation yet.

That's about where we are. We've also met Sherman's parents, who are WASPs of the very oldest school, and gotten an idea of the social pressure he's under to maintain appearances, both of wealth and propriety.

The plot, as they say, is clearly thickening. I'm highly entertained for most of it, although I hate Peter Fallow and his alcoholic fog. The narration is obnoxious when it's his turn to be in the spotlight because of the fact that Wolfe thinks it's a good idea to represent his need for alcohol with delirious mental exclamations that interrupt the flow of the narrative. As in the quote below:
"The paper, which was Xeroxed - Xeroxed! Radium-blue! The snout! - bore the letterhead of the American People's Alliance." (292)
See? "The snout!"? What does that even mean? This is not an effective technique. It is also freaking annoying. I'd much rather have something like, "The paper, which was Xeroxed, made him think of the bright light of the copy machine, radium-blue like the headache that pounded behind his eyes and roared for another drink. The sheet bore the letterhead of the American People's Alliance." Or something. I'm not saying I'm as good as Tom Wolfe, I'm just saying that interrupting the narrative with thought-italics is both chintzy and disruptive. (This from the girl with the parentheses fetish.)

But mostly I like it, despite my whining.

1 comment:

  1. Apparently "the snout" references the snout of Il Porcellino which, when rubbed, gives good luck. What that has to do with the blue light of a Xerox machine I have no earthly idea.



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