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Top Producer by Norb Vonnegut

Posted by Larry Doyle on September 24, 2009 4:04 PM |

The 1980s saw dramatic swings on Wall Street. The ’80s brought us the start of a major bull market in bonds along with the major stock market crash of 1987. Rest assured, though, there was as much action after hours as there was during the trading days. The book that captured the true essence of that time period was Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe.

There is no doubt the economic booms and busts of this decade make the ’80s look like childs’ play. What books will be published to capture the essence of this period? Let me propose Top Producer by Norb Vonnegut, a Wall Street veteran who understands a 10-Q, a CDO, and the spirit of the characters who drove Wall Street and our economy into the ground.

This recent review of Top Producer speaks volumes:

It seems Kurt wasn’t the only Vonnegut with storytelling in the extended family DNA. The proof is in this entertaining debut novel from Kurt’s distant cousin Norb Vonnegut. Here we meet Grove O’Rourke, a successful stockbroker (known as a “top producer” in Wall Street-speak) swirling in the aftermath of his best friend’s gory, public murder. To help the widow, Grove tries to decipher the ins and outs of his friend’s hedge fund business. Then, of course, mysteries and secrets unfurl, and our well-meaning protagonist finds himself in hot water.

The story mirrors reality — in ways that may now surprise even its author, who finished the book before the economic meltdown. The two decades Vonnegut spent as a wealth advisor are evident in the venom he brings to descriptions (”a colostomy bag in wingtips”) and in his grasp of the cutthroat world of finance. That plus his affinity for wordplay — nicknaming a raspy-voiced character “the hoarse whisperer” — will likely give you an appreciative smirk as you turn the pages to see exactly what happens to Grove in his search for the truth.

For those who have worked on trading desks and for those who would like an insider’s look at the Wall Street pace and race, Top Producer is a must read. I strongly recommend it.

Author Norb Vonnegut will be joining me this Sunday evening on No Quarter Radio’s Sense on Cents with Larry Doyle to discuss his surefire blockbuster, as well as his views on the Wall Street experience.


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