Sunday, December 23, 2007
Wall Street Noir
I just discovered the Akashic Books’ Noir Series and Wow, do I have some reading to do! I picked Wall Street Noirup first because it contained a story by Megan Abbot, author of The Song is You, reviewed here in October. I had never read anything by the other authors contained in this anthology of crime stories that revolve around the theme of high finance and corporate transgression, and this was a great introduction to many of them. The wonderful thing about noir short stories as opposed to a novel is that the focus is always on the victims and perpetrators of crimes, not on the investigation that takes place afterward. We never meet any detectives here, just people who are about to wind up dead or in jail. It’s a great way to mix up the genre.
By far my favorite story was Five Days at the Sunset by Peter Speigleman, also the books’ editor. It takes place about as far as mentally possible from Wall Street only to point out just how far the financial world and its misdeeds can reach. The pace is slow to start but builds to a very surprise ending. Other highlights are Stephen Rhoades' At the Top of His Game with its dead-on descriptions of the nouveau riche’s clichéd suburbs and symbols of success; The Consultant by Peter Blauner, the first story I’ve ever read that casts a pregnant woman as the ultimate con-artist, I mean, consultant…; Richard Aleas’s The Quant which humorously explains murder in terms of percentages of financial risk; and The Day Trader in the Trunk of Cleto’s Car (Mark Haskell Smith), a story that combines the movie business, day trading, and L.A. gangs into a darkly funny tale of life’s last moments.
The only disappointment in the bunch was Lauren Sanders' Everything I’m Not. It has a wonderful build-up but the final conclusion leaves too many interesting storylines dangling; and the would-be ironic ending ends up reading a little dull. I wanted Jen to get caught AND her father end up dead, truly capitalizing on the despair of the situation.
It will take me awhile but I can’t wait to read more books in this series!
Posted by Ana Dziengel at 9:47 PM