A technically challenging and narratively undisciplined novel but a philosophically astute look at the foibles of modern...

Confessions of a Day Trader

A financial thriller that chronicles the exuberance of quick stock market success and the devastation of greed.

In 1992, Jay Jackson needed a respite from the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley, so he moved to Kauai, Hawaii, bought a bed-and-breakfast, and got a beautiful Hawaiian girlfriend. After eight years, he’s content with his decision, but he’s suffering some financial distress: his savings are depleted, and the slagging tourism industry is pinching his B&B profits. Stevy Stanford, an old friend known for his razor-sharp mind and dogged pursuit of financial windfalls, calls to let Jay in on his latest venture: a technology company, Galaxy, has concocted a way to revolutionize digital advertising and has acquired 14 patents to corner the market. Stevy has inside information that the company’s soon to go public, so he buys the rights to another investor’s future stock holdings, anticipating a massive score in the near future. Jay enthusiastically jumps onboard despite his lack of investment savvy, eager to ride Stevy’s wave to financial freedom. However, the market gets hit by a major correction, and then the tragedy of 9/11 brings it to a crashing halt. Galaxy’s initial public offering is continually postponed, and when it merges with another company, it significantly dilutes the value of Jay’s and Stevy’s holdings. Jay is so beleaguered that he starts playing craps at casinos to supplement his income, and Stevy seems poised for financial ruin. Debut author Free intelligently weaves a tale about the elusiveness of luck and the magnetic draw of greed. Jay, his narrator, frantically chases the ultimate win, sacrificing the contentment of his former, island-bound life: “I believed good fortune came in waves. I believed that there was an ever-present dialectic: winning, then losing, then flat lining.” The microscopic focus on the minutiae of financial deals will intimidate many readers; as a result, the book will primarily appeal to those with an interest in and some knowledge of investment. Also, the plot tends to digressively wander too far afield; for example, a subplot involving Jay’s tutelage of a 17-year-old girl seems out of place. However, the book offers a thoughtful take on the psychological stakes of gambling.

A technically challenging and narratively undisciplined novel but a philosophically astute look at the foibles of modern capitalism.

Pub Date: July 21, 2016


Page Count: 260

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2016

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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