“A Ride on the 6.” Photo: Alfred Gonzalez

In the frenzy of 1980s-bashing that seized the cultural elite following the election of Bill Clinton last November, a highly relevant anniversary went unnoticed: The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe’s first novel, turned five years old. Odd that not a single pundit took the trouble to bid farewell to the Masters of the Universe, those “mere boys, with smooth jawlines and clean arteries,” who bought three-million-dollar apartments on Park Avenue and carried to work “one of those burgundy leather attaché cases that come from Mädler or T. Anthony on Park Avenue and have a buttery smoothness that announces:...

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