Reviewed: The Wolf of Wallstreet By: Jordan Belfort Published by: Bantim, 2008
“…when I fell down, there was always someone to pick me up; when I got caught under the influence, there was always some crooked judge or corrupt police officer to make an accommodation; and when I passed out at the dinner table and found myself drowning in the soup du jour, there was always my wife, or, if not her, then some benevolent hooker, who would come to my aid with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation…”
In the adult cartoon series South Park, there is a famous scene or skit about ‘Gods and Clods’, wherein Stan’s father, a successful lawyer, explains to his son the essence of capitalism: that we get rewarded in relation to the skills we have, and the extent to which society values them. The Wolf of Wall Street is the personal account of a young man who, within a few short years, went from a Clod to a God – and all by riding the waves of über-capitalism. The trajectory follows a similar path to that of a child star, or those young boys and girls plucked off a Tesco checkout by the hand of Providence (a.k.a Simon Cowell), and turned into an overnight sensation. The fervour and envy with which we watch them burn bright, is eclipsed only by the delight we take in the inevitable crash and burn. If this were fiction, it wouldn’t work – the excess of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll would soon be off-putting. However this is personal testimony, and one delivered not for the sake of crowing:
“…I sincerely hope that my life serves as a cautionary tale; to anyone living with a spoon up their nose and a bunch of pills dissolving in their stomach sac… One day I’ll explain to my kids how their loveable dad who drives them to soccer, shows up at parent-teacher conferences and makes them Caesar salad on Friday nights, could have been such a despicable person…”
From this perspective, it’s a stunning account. In a world still recovering from the financial miscalculations of a few, the inside story of a stockbroker gorging on corruption and fraud, is mesmeric. The author has chosen to simply narrate his life, to ‘tell it like it is’ – and that works brilliantly, for it allows the reader’s emotions to evolve organically, and thus the book can be enjoyed at many levels.
Do you like sex & drugs? It’s served up aplenty. Want to revel in your righteous indignation? You can do that too, for this is the honestly told tale of a life truly lived: one which almost no reader will be able to relate to, but which most would love a bird’s eye view on. It’s an oft-used word but in a very real sense, this book was ‘unputdownable’. For a whole spectrum of reasons, from lofty to base, this reviewer felt compelled to keep on reading.
Tamim Sadikali designs software for hedge funds by day, runs after his kids in the evening and writes fiction during the dead hours. His first novel, Dear Infidel, is a story about'...love, hate, longing and sexual dysfunction, all sifted through the war on terror...' He blogs about satellite subjects and rants on Twitter.