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A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism Paperback – April 12, 2011
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On his first assignment for a rapacious hedge fund, Gabriel embarks to Bolivia at the end of 2005 to ferret out insider information about the plans of the controversial president-elect. If Gabriel succeeds, he will get a bonus that would make him secure for life. Standing in his way are his headstrong mother, herself a survivor of Pinochet's Chile, and Gabriel's new love interest, the president's passionate press liaison. Caught in a growing web of lies and questioning his own role in profiting from an impoverished people, Gabriel sets in motion a terrifying plan that could cost him the love of all those he holds dear. In the tradition of Martin Amis, Joshua Ferris, and Sam Lipsyte—set against the stunning mountainous backdrop of La Paz and interspersed with Bolivia's sad history of stubborn survival—Peter Mountford examines the critical choices a young man makes as his world closes in on him.
Amazon Exclusive: Garth Stein Reviews A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism
Peter Mountford’s striking debut novel, A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism, is a smart and entertaining book. Set near the peak of the financial bubble in 2005, the book charts the story of a young financial journalist, Gabriel de Boya, recently hired as an analyst for a notoriously unscrupulous hedge fund. Gabriel’s first mission is a test of his abilities: go to Bolivia and find a way to profit from the Bolivian presidential election. In Gabriel, Mountford creates a complex, charismatic, and engaging character, a chameleon who works himself into increasingly precarious positions as his mission is both facilitated and complicated by his love affair with the Bolivian president-elect’s press liaison.
In Mountford's novel, the stakes of international finance and the personal lives of those involved intersect in a beautifully drawn Bolivia. A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism accomplishes that rare trick of being a book of ideas and politics while remaining, at its core, a profoundly intimate, character-driven story and a tremendously good read.
I highly recommend this captivating debut novel by a remarkably promising young writer.
In 1983, when I was seven, my family moved from a quiet neighborhood in Washington, D.C., to Sri Lanka. Two weeks after we arrived in Colombo, the country was consumed by a bloody month of ethnic strife—what became known as Black July. That strife turned into a nearly thirty-year-long civil war. Then, in my early twenties, I spent two years in Ecuador writing about the country’s ailing economy. Ecuador was embroiled in a rapid succession of revolutions and spectacular economic catastrophes at the time, and I saw a similar irrepressible current of culture and beauty running beneath these disasters. Also, I saw how inextricably wed finance is to history, and to the lives of everyday people.
In sharp contrast to those experiences, I also spent part of my childhood in a wooded suburb Washington, D.C., where incidents in the personal and professional lives of my friends’ parents often ended up in the headlines of newspapers.
It was through experiencing these kinds of stark contrasts—between power and powerlessness, wealth and poverty—that I was inspired to write A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism. The book dramatizes my time living and working in South America. Economics is often thought of as a dry subject (the so-called "dismal science"), but it has always seemed utterly dramatic to me, and in this book I’ve tried to reveal how exciting and funny and engaging this material can be.--Peter Mountford
"[T]he novel holds the reader's interest to the end... [Mountford's] affectionate portrayal of Bolivia is probably the book's strongest point."
"This is a solid read that is both adventurous and thought-provoking on the themes of racial identity, South Americans, politics, and wealth."
“A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism is, quite simply, one of the most compelling and thought-provoking novels I’ve read in years. It’s extraordinarily vivid, populated by characters whose fates I cared about desperately, beautifully written, timely beyond measure, but above all it conveys -- with impressive precision and nuance—how we are vectors on the grid of global capital; how difficult it is to even attempt to be an authentic, let alone admirable, human being when we are, first and last, cash flow.”
— David Shields, author of Reality Hunger: A Manifesto
"A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism is a terrific debut novel—smart, moving, beautifully written. Peter Mountford's parable of the voracious global economy reminded me of Graham Greene's The Quiet American in its clear-eyed depiction of the realpolitik of our age."
— Jess Walters, author of The Financial Lives of the Poets
"A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism is a brilliant debut novel, one that is generous in giving readers an original cast of vividly-drawn and unforgettable characters, learned in its knowledge of the interwoven worlds of finance and politics, sexy, and thoroughly cosmopolitan. Peter Mountford is easily one of the most gifted and skillful young writers, already accomplished, I have had the pleasure of reading in many years."
— Charles Johnson, author of Middle Passage and Dreamer
“In his debut novel, A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism, Peter Mountford has something important to say about the ambiguous moral ground where the personal meets the political. He has experience and sophistication beyond his years and is well-positioned to mine this vein. This novel is worth your time and attention.”
— David Guterson, author of Snow Falling on Cedars
"Peter Mountford, in his amazing debut as a novelist, has updated the gilded myth of Wall Street swashbucklers in expensive suits and spun it out into the world in a hellbent tale, dramatizing the contorted rationalizations practiced by the financial elite to justify their self-delusion. Forget fame, respect, making the world a better place. Transcend the craving for money by acquiring a truckload of it. Buddha as a hedge fund operator, reallocating soullessness throughout the system."
— Bob Shacochis, author of Swimming in the Volcano and The Next New World
"Peter Mountford's A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism is a sharp, funny and terrifying novel— in a world so much like our own (part of the terror: it may, in fact, be our world), Gabriel's actions and the reactions of those around him caused me to wonder, again and again: how do I wish to live in this world, and what latitude might I find?"
— Peter Rock, author of My Abandonment
Top Customer Reviews
I became frustrated with how seemingly easy it was for Gabriel to extract information from lovers, to both of whom he reveals his true purpose in Bolivia. Each of these women, whose detailed career descriptions I'll omit here, only mentioning that they're each in prominent positions relevant to his true cause throughout the novel, are eventually willing to help him. Though I've of course never attempted anything like Gabriel's fictional job in real life, realistic as the role he plays for his hedge fund employer I do believe to be, it seems to me that women of the stature of his two bedfellows would be loathe to provide him with any of the sort of information they do after "dating" him for a few weeks.
This next comment may be trite, but by the end of the book, its title came to annoy me. The fact is there's a lot more to capitalism than the events described therein, and the book is anything but a guide. I suppose it's meant to be satirical, but I just think he could've called it something cooler.
Still, without spoiling the ending for anyone reading this review, its the ending itself that allowed me to give it four stars. I was pleased overall with Gabriel's fate. That and the facts that I very much enjoyed reading it, found it hard to put down, and admired Mountford's writing style throughout the book amount to why I gave it a four star rating. I intend to read future novels by this author.
The young man is Gabriel, raised alone by a refugee from Pinochet's Chile who is now an ultra liberal professor. Mother and son have a close, sympathetic relationship but (or maybe therefore) Gabriel believes it is necessary to not tell her that he's working for a Hedge fund, the Calloway Group.
Gabriel is fluent in Spanish and comfortable in Latin America from trips there with his mother, as well as a study semester during college. He comes to Bolivia a few weeks before the 2005 election which Evo Morales is expected to win. Gabriel's job is to find any information that would let the Calloway hedge fund "outgun" other funds and thereby attract the greed of millionaire players.
Gabriel meets a young woman, Lenka, who happens to be the press liaison for Morales. They begin an affair; Gabriel feels welcomed when she introduces him to her extended family; they fall in love.
At 25, Gabriel thinks he knows what life is all about. He saw clearly the difference between America and Bolivia. The American dream of fame and fortune was only a fantasy unlike in other countries where children were not told they could achieve anything they wanted.
With a life that has been cushioned by his mother's six figure income, Gabriel does not himself care for "cushiness." He doesn't intend to make money the focus of his life. All he wants is to make enough money to be "done with the issue of money forever."
The future to Gabriel seems filled with possibilities. He can picture himself living in New York or in Bolivia, making do or freed from worry about money.Read more ›
I started reading because I wanted to get my money's worth, but continued because the story was compelling, and mysterious. I was somewhat reminded of a Graham Greene storyline, albeit with slightly lower stakes (less murder).
Buy this book for the author's strange gesture of helping a Russian struggling to steal from him, and read it because you won't be able to put it down!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Characters well built. Realistic scenarios. I got a sense of the environment and the life in South American. I love being brought into worlds I do not know.Published 13 months ago by Orliss
Wow, really enjoyed this book. Wonderfully drawn characters and atmosphere in Bolivia. And interesting treatment of how an election might be exploited by investors. Read morePublished 18 months ago by wrecks
Nothing against the seller or anything like that, it was just a terrible book. :/Published on July 21, 2014 by Heidy Woods
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the world of finance. It tells the story of a young mans journey to wealth and the relationships he comes to understand along... Read morePublished on April 11, 2014 by Gabriel Clark
November 2005. Gabriel de Boya, half-Russian, half-Chilean, but educated as American, arrived in La Paz, Bolivia's de facto capital, as freelancer journalist. Read morePublished on October 6, 2013 by Ray Garraty
I bought this novel on a whim at Cody's bookstore in Berkeley. I hadn't even heard of it, but the price was right (it was remaindered), and the subject looked interesting: I... Read morePublished on July 29, 2013 by not me
Interesting subject matter but as it progressed the story became too formulaic and predictable while the prose became bland and sentimental. Promising writer but not there yet.Published on April 24, 2013 by M. Faulk
I was sorry to see the book end and therefore know my time in the intriguing world Mountford had created was over. Read morePublished on February 10, 2013 by Scott Douglas
It promised a great deal but ultimately, the book just did not deliver. The main character was at first interesting but by about halfway through he became predictable as the action... Read morePublished on February 8, 2013 by KambizF