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Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Ghost of Gatsby Will Rise Again: Book Review of The Dream Merchant by Fred Waitzkin

The Dream Merchant haunted me. A sort of modern Nick Carraway revisits his friendship over the years with one of those scary, seamy characters that Florida and the Keys seem to generate like waterspouts. In this case the buddy, Jim--met on a remote cay, bonded with on his yacht while warding off drug smugglers at night--is a master of business, able to recover from devastating failures to reinvent himself again and again. But it's a horrifying, not a heroic, tale--Jim is a mad spieler, a marketer of pyramid schemes, and he needs a woman at his side. So the story is of serial businesses and serial marriages and serial failures in which the woman is discarded so the man can start anew. It's so vivid it hurts to read sometimes.

This is a book written with fire and verve--it's as thrilling as a thriller, but a work of literary substance that refuses to weigh itself down with fancy writing, indulgences and failure of nerve. Can't say enough about it, but can end by saying: If you want to see how Jay Gatsby would be like in today's go-go world, this is your book.

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