Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bankers Town by Joel Hames reviewed by Charlene Jones

Amazon Digital Services, 326 pps, Kindle only $3.46 or paperback $24.84 here.

This book serves up an economical read. By putting two books into one Hames feeds his readers a fictional account of one man’s rise and fall and a factual narrative about how banks and international finance work.

The first fifty pages brim with the factual. Hames treats his readers to a complete explication of how global financial markets work. Soon the reader is also treated to the fictional world of Alex Konninger, a lively psychopath who strings us along by the brilliance of his lies.

This fictional character’s impressively psychopathic, or psycho-pathetic, tendencies,
 hook the reader into wondering how exactly his life will unfold. Protagonist Alex’s ability to forego any moral considerations, his capacity to act upon nothing but greed and self-interest since, as he points out (in the manner of narcissistic personalities everywhere) “THEY” are all doing the same thing, boggles the reader’s mind.

Really? People in high finance are really that driven by avarice? Maybe. Or maybe that answer satisfies our desire (excuse me, I mean those of us who do not reap millions of dollars per year in wages and bonus) to see those very wealthy people as spiritually bankrupt. That satisfaction gets massaged repeatedly as Alex falls from one pitiful, drunken disaster to another without taking the consequences. 

It is the amount of alcohol, the number of mornings sacrificed to body paralyzing hangovers that keeps the picture in our mind straight. Here is a character who deeply deserves what we begin to see will befall him. Again, a very satisfying sense of completeness, of the universe unfolding as it should.

That is the fiction. In the world in which a global recession hit apparently out of the blue, no one at the top took the fall. We all know that. We all know that and we all keep investing in the casino known as the stock market, because we too, wish to be the winners who rake in many, many dollars. In this way we forgive those who created the monstrous recession that saw millions lose their homes, their jobs, their way of life; we forgive those who orchestrated this suffering, because we know given a chance, we’d love to have our dirty hands on those wheels of power.

The book describes those wheels and the hands that turn them. Hames is a skillful writer, carefully executing the actions, and justifications of a morally deficit individual working within what may be the most morally corrupt area of our times. At least, those of  us who don’t reap millions of dollars by playing in those areas like to believe it so. 

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Charlene Jones’ poetry has most recently appeared on Commuterlit. This, poem, “Visitors to the ROM” was a runner up in the Ontario Poetry Society’s annual Arborealis poetry contest. Charlene also writes for her radio program Off the Top with Whistle Radio, 102.7 fm, aired every second Tuesday from 3:00 to 3:30 p.m. (Note: Whistle Radio and CommuterLit have recently teamed up to run a monthly contest. Details here.) You can see Charlene perform her poetry and prose at Portobello Restaurant and Bar the first Saturday every month in Toronto. Finally,  Chalene’s first novel, The Stain was released in September.

See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Bolton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Niagara on the Lake, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

1 comment:

  1. Very enjoyable. I am not in the city business at all, but this had me hooked. great plot, great characters, couldn't second guess the plot at all. Fast moving but plenty of detail with great explanations.