Mad Men meets Wall Street in Helms’ (Coming to Terms with Wall Street, 2000) novel, heavily invested in sex, booze and shady brokerage deals.
It’s the middle of the 1960s, and Garvey Hatch is a young investment gunslinger on the rise. He has a business degree from Harvard, a wife, kids and a wandering sexual libido. On the day his wife, Lil, catches him cheating with a neighbor, he gets a job offer from a burgeoning investment corporation, Winston & Quarles. He’s always been an ambitious person, and W&Q seems like the quickest route to his dream of financial success. So he packs up his family, Lil included, and moves to the corporate headquarters in Kansas City. When he’s not drinking scotch or screwing another girl from the office, Garvey is jet-setting to Los Angeles, Las Vegas or New York to check on new investment opportunities. Of course, with the changes in scenery, there’s plenty of sex and alcohol, but Garvey is also very good at his job, and he quickly jumps into “doubling a thousand only ten times and getting a million.” All the while, he tries to take an analyst’s advice: “Don’t ever let them catch you working….But work a lot.” “You never let them see you sweat; you shake your head and smile when a punch lands,” Garvey says. His highs are a fun ride, though one knock against them is a shortage of lows to add contrast. Nonetheless, Garvey manages to be a charming egotist, even as he shorts his friends and family. Helms’ prose snaps like a whip with spot-on reflections of the free-swinging broker lifestyle: “[W]e are not patient enough to go out and start companies in the hope we get the one-in-a-million hit. We’re pirates, not pig farmers.” The writing tends to dip, however, when the narrative steps into sentimentality, but the fun, debauchery and financial scheming overpower the weaker sections.
Readers would be wise to invest in the journeys of this lovable, well-loved narcissist.