CONFESSIONS OF A TAOIST ON WALL STREET: A Chinese American Romance by David Peyne


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Awarded the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award: an enormous whimsy balanced on a mere speck of a joke--that Tao (Chinese) and Dow (as in Jones, Wall Street) are identical in correct pronunciation. Penny thus creates a young Taoist monk, Sun I (profit or loss, in Chinese), who's actually the son of American financier Awed Love (who was in China as a Flying Tiger during WW II). And when Sun I discovers his paternity, he lights out in search of his father, winds up in New York, gets a job on Wall Street as a runner, learns the intricacies of the market from guru-like sharpie trader Aaron Kahn, and enters finance for himself--amassing millions upon investment-decisions coordinated with consultations with the I Chink and going for one big broke by attempting a takeover of Awed Love's original company (the A.T.&T.-like American Power and Light). But finally an elegant leveraged bate reduces Sun I back to Chinatown penury. . . from Dow back to Tao. Along the way, stitched through over 700 pages of ornamental prose, there are erudite patches of philosophy--from the Tao to economic determinism to Love and even Episcopalianism. There are romantic episodes with two sisters: pure Yin-Mi and more worldly, sexual Yin-Li. And, throughout, Penny displays energy, a good ear for accents, and a sure grasp of Tao/Dow intricacies. But none of these diversions really conceals the thin predictability of Sun I's rise and fall--while the comedy never takes off from farfetched-ness into inspired absurdity. Some likely fun, then, for business-school types savvy about Eastern ways; others, however, will probably fred this a cute idea that soon--despite Penny's hard-working, sophisticated efforts--becomes arch and tedious.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1984
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin