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Ghosts of Manhattan: A Novel by Douglas…

Ghosts of Manhattan: A Novel

by Douglas Brunt

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This was a much better book than I thought it would be. As the reader you already know what happens to Bear-Sterns where the narrator Nick Farmer works, but the book added a soul to this main character. This was a good story. ( )
  zmagic69 | Nov 13, 2015 |
I thought this book would be more about what led to the stock market fiasco. Instead it was one long whine about a guy who makes lots and lots of money off people who are buying what may be worthless investments. The poor dear is unhappy with his life but hasn't got the balls to do anything about it other than whine some more. The writing was better than I expected, but essentially the book was a waste of my time. ( )
  GabbyHayze | Jun 12, 2013 |
Nick Farmer lands himself a job at Bear Stearns right out of college and he is really not sure why or how it happened. Twelve years later he hates himself, he hates his job and his marriage is falling apart but he doesn't see any way to leave a position that pays him so much money when he and his wife have gotten used to living on a seven figure income. As he stumbles further and further into an abyss of drugs, alcohol and disgust he learns that an analyst in the firm is predicting a financial Armageddon and he fears his wife is having an affair.

I am having a hard time with this review because I really, really, REALLY hated Nick Farmer. It is hard for me to read a book when the protagonist is so stupid and immature. If this is truly how the "men" running Wall Street behave no wonder it all imploded. The synopsis also does not tell the tale of the book and I get frustrated when that happens. I take a book to review from that synopsis and when I get another book altogether I am not a happy reviewer. I recognize that it is not the author's fault but publisher's should know by now that people buy books based on what is written on the covers and when the two do not match buyers get angry. Rant over.

Back to the book. This is more a story of one man, Nick Farmer and the dissolution of his marriage rather than the collapse of Wall Street. Nick is rotten to his wife, he hangs out with a bunch of misogynistic pigs who go out drinking, snorting cocaine and hiring hookers almost every night of the week. And he wonders why his marriage is falling apart? I saw no earthly reason why this was necessary to the completion of his job. It was never explained. It was just "done." Perhaps this is a book better enjoyed by men who can live vicariously through the lives of other men making obscene amounts of money for doing relatively nothing.

Mr. Brunt writes in a mixture of technical (I was glad I had a banking background) schmaltz and partyboy. I read through to the end hoping for some manner of solid redemption for Nick Farmer but I'm not so sure. I don't think he will ever grow up. ( )
  BrokenTeepee | Nov 4, 2012 |
Douglas Brunt delivers an expose on the activities taking place at Bear Stearns prior to that firm being prominent in the mortgage collapse that led to bank failures.

Nick Farmer is a bond trader with a seven figure income. Part of his job at Bear Stearns is to provide celebrations for the people working under him and other business contacts. These activities include alcoholic binges, strip clubs, prostitutes and cocaine. Eventually, this life takes a toll on Nick's marriage. His wife says she wants the old Nick back and he agrees.

Fred Cook is a nerdy risk market analyst who predicts doom for Bear Stearns' high mortgage backed securities. He's one of the few honest people in the story. When he asks for Nick's support, he reluctantly agrees but no one listens.

The author has written an important view of what was going on in this major financial organization. It paints a dismal picture of the greed and illegal activities taking place.

This is a well done work with an important message. ( )
  mikedraper | Oct 22, 2012 |
I’ve always loved the movie Wall Street. There’s something so fascinating, annoying, hateful, and sad about Gordon Gekko. He’s a car wreck I can’t stop gaping at. And, yes, I like the sequel, Money Never Sleeps too. Who doesn’t want more Gordon Gekko?

When I was offered the chance to review Ghosts of Manhattan, I took it. I, apparently, want more Gordon Gekko.

Nick Farmer is a bond trader at Bear Stearns and he hates his job. Any novelty it once held has long since faded along with any interest in the parties, drugs, and hookers. Those bonuses, though, are what keep him going back to the office every day. He’s married, but after several years, is realizing that he barely knows his wife anymore and he isn’t sure he even wants to know her any longer. The job is taking a toll not just on him but his wife and their marriage as well. When Nick is approached by a paranoid analyst who is scared of what his research foretells, Nick starts wondering if the right time to get out is now.

Nick is a character I want to feel bad for. He hates his job, the people and corporation he works for, the lazy ethics of the place, and the lifestyle he, for better or worse, has become accustomed to. On top of all this, his personal life is falling apart. On the other hand, he does nothing at work, drinks, does a little cocaine from time to time in New York’s finest bathrooms (they have floor to ceiling stall doors if you must know), and charges back thousands upon thousands of dollars to absurd expense accounts without even blinking. That’s what made me want to scream at this book but I also kept reading because of it. It’s hard to understand that type of money. Absurd isn’t even the word to describe it. Insane maybe but even that’s not enough. But I wanted to see how deep that hole went and how far Nick was willing to fall into it. The answer to that is pretty far. Sadly, he knows it but keeps going.

But Nick is also a likable character. As I said, he hates his job and his personal life is circling a large drain ready to suck him into a vast hell. He knows it but doesn’t do much about it, which is probably best since anytime he tries, he fails miserably. He’s a good at heart with some decent intentions but has yet to figure out how to wield anything positive.

The world Nick lives in, almost unwillingly (he doesn’t know how to get out until he has to), isn’t his fault though and I’m not giving the character an out here. He has his bad, maybe even reprehensible moments, but there’s something about him that seems redeemable and that I could work with. I like to like characters in books, and Nick has a likable side under all the grime.

I know some of you may be thinking about this book in terms of Wall Street only, and that’s not the best way to approach this one. Yes, the main part of the story surrounds Nick’s job and there are numerous hateful people in his circle doing numerous hateful things, but there are some nice moments, some funny moments, and in the end, a new beginning. I liked that about this one.

Also, now the theme song to Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is stuck in my head. ( )
  justabookreader | Oct 8, 2012 |
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A wryly comic, first-person debut novel offering a withering view of life on Wall Street from the perspective of an unhappy insider who is too hooked on the money to find a way out, even as his career is ruining his marriage and corroding his soul. It{u2019}s 2005. Nick Farmer is a thirty-five-year-old bond trader with Bear Stearns clearing seven figures a year. The novelty of a work-related nightlife centering on liquor, hookers, and cocaine has long since worn thin, though Nick remains keenly addicted to his annual bonus. But the lifestyle is taking a toll on his marriage and on him. When a nerdy analyst approaches him with apocalyptic prognostications of where Bear{u2019}s high-flying mortgage-backed securities trading may lead, Nick is presented with the kind of ethical dilemma he{u2019}s spent a lifetime avoiding. Throw in a hot financial journalist who seems to be more interested in him than in the percolating financial armageddon and the prospect that his own wife may have found a new romantic interest of her own, and you have the recipe for Nick{u2019}s personal and professional implosion. By turns hilarious and harrowing, Ghosts of Manhattan follows a winning but flawed character as he struggles to find the right path in a complicated urban heart of darkness.… (more)

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