Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Two separate, yet equally important groups

Current book: Bonfire of the Vanities
Pages read: 107 - 212

Well, as I suspected, Sherman and Maria's little accident is about to be scrutinized by the police. The kid they hit, whose name is Henry Lamb, is in a coma in the hospital, and his mother has enlisted a prominent member of the Harlem community, Reverend Bacon (who's definitely a leader and for many, a positive force, but also seems to have some investments that are not entirely on the up-and-up), to pressure the police and the DA to investigate properly. There are, of course, all kinds of accusations about racism and favoritism being thrown around, and it seems likely that there's some being displayed, actually, since the police are hedging on pursuing the case, regardless of the fact that they have a partial license plate number.

While this stuff is happening, we're introduced to Peter Fallow, a reporter for one of the New York newspapers, who is a transplanted Brit and has some serious contempt for the American populace. He's also a raging alcoholic desperately trying to cling to his job. He's about to increase his chances of keeping it by breaking the story of Henry Lamb and Sherman Marshall and the corruption and racism of the police and government, it seems, since he's just gotten a lucky tip about the situation.

In addition to this, Lawrence Kramer, the ADA from yesterday (Blog yesterday, not book yesterday. Although they might be the same, come to think of it. But your timeline, dear readers, is dictated by my whims anyway, so you have no choice in the matter! Mine is an evil laugh!), has just concluded his prosecution of a man named Herbert 92X (it's an adopted Islamic name, apparently, which doesn't sound like any Islamic name I've ever heard of, but there you go). The case itself isn't that important, but Kramer has worked himself up to a deep infatuation with one of the jury members, Shelly Thomas, to whom he refers as "the girl with brown lipstick."

It's definitely still engaging. As I said before, I think the commentary on the racial situation in 1980s New York is pertinent and interesting, and is, sadly, still far too pertinent more than twenty years later. Yes, we've made progress: we have a black man in the highest office in the nation. And yet, for a young black man in Henry Lamb's situation, have the odds of getting justice for a crime perpetrated against him by an affluent white man really improved? Maybe. Have the odds of getting justice for a crime perpetrated against him by another black man of his socioeconomic status improved? An even less definite maybe. But I like that Wolfe is making me think about the issue. That's definitely worth points in my estimation.

Man, also, can I just say, the anti-Semitism in the novel is kind of a shock to me? I don't even think about anti-Semitism being an issue, so the constant references to people being Jewish as a reason not to trust them or to make fun of them or what have you are really jarring. (I wish I could say the same of all the racism, come to think of it. ) Is it an 80s thing? Is it a New York thing? Is it both?

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