AMERICAN SUCKER by David Denby is more than a memoir about the
consequences of investing in tech stocks and the implosion of the
dot-com industry; it's a tale of Modern American Greed.
Denby, a film critic for The New Yorker magazine, penned a
story that is both hilarious and heartbreaking. With his marriage
to bestselling novelist Cathleen Schine on the ropes in early 2000,
Denby embarked to do all that he could to raise money to buy out
his wife's share of their posh Manhattan apartment. His plan:
invest in volatile tech stocks.
His goal was to raise one million dollars. At first Denby does
extremely well with his investments making him money. Then the
bottom drops out.The result: he admits to losing more than one
Unlike your average personal investor, Denby had access to movers
and shakers like Sam Waksal and Henry Blodget for expert advice.
Denby writes about networking with Waksal, former chief executive
of ImClone Systems, who is currently serving seven years in prison
for insider trading, and Blodget, a former Merrill Lynch Internet
analyst who was permanently banned from working on Wall Street in
2003 by the Securities and Exchange Commission and made to pay $4
million for stock market fraud.
Denby notes his ability to chinwag with key players like these came
from his success as a writer in New York City's elite literary
circles. One chapter entitled "Envy," describes his relationship
with affluent couples. He also writes about his addiction to CNBC,
Nyquil and the effects of pending divorce.
Also noteworthy about the memoir are Denby's ongoing references to
Theodore Dreiser's classic 1912 literary masterpiece THE FINANCIER
and its main protagonist, Frank Cowperwood. Denby mentions THE
FINANCIER numerous times to compare Cowperwood, Waksal and
Denby understands clearly that the actions of Waksal, Blodgett and
the Enron debacle ruined lives and cost American workers millions
of dollars. It is hoped that Denby's memoir --- and other accounts
like it --- will ensure that this type of travesty never happens
Reviewed by David Exum on January 20, 2011