A tale of muddling through in a world bereft of meaning; or, love among the financial ruins.
Mat, a finance whiz in the City of London, is a connoisseur of fine things who doesn’t bat an eye at spending hundreds on a bottle of wine or putting such an extravagance on his expense account. As Grant’s (A Moment More Sublime, 2014) morality tale opens, he’s at a conference listening to other financial whiz kids talking about surefire things that eliminate doubt and risk and can’t help but fatten their wallets. Alas, the crash is just around the corner, and while, like everyone else, Mat now lives in a “world where the possibility of orientation is lost,” he’s also managed to tuck a nice chunk of change away. But is that and a good case of wine enough to secure meaning in the world? No, of course not: there’s friendship, and love, and family, and passing on wisdom to children (“What’s cocaine?” asks one. “It’s a white powder,” he eventually answers and later adds, “Only big people can have it”). And more: there’s the need to make a difference in a world of haves and have-nots, a matter on which Mat’s philosopher love interest has some firm ideas: “You just make as much noise as you can to try and make the fuckers so uncomfortable they think again.” Grant, himself a philosopher publishing through a philosophical publishing house, laces his narrative with big issues—the rights of workers and refugees, workaday ethics, avarice and redistribution—while skirting philosophical heavy lifting as such, though there are references to classical and continental thinkers along the way. (“What’s a Derridean?” “Someone who says nothing of value in a very complex way.”) And though the plot resolves believably and the characters are well-realized, with some bright dialogue, the story lags at times, especially when it gets into the thick of legal and financial matters.
Fairly conventional, certainly as compared to what other philosophically inclined writers—Bruce Duffy, say, or Julia Kristeva—might have done with the same material.