An American Wife
The first time I read An American Wife, I sank into the grip of a fascinating novel. The second time, I examined the making of a roman à clef about Laura Bush, and unraveled how Sittenfeld used the spine of truth and built fiction upon that skeleton.
Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend
Yes, there is a real man that inspired the phrase “Ponzi scheme.” Like many charlatans and schemers, Charles Ponzi could be irresistibly charming—and he managed to pull the wool over his wife’s eyes even as he fooled (almost) the entire City of Boston in 1920. Like Madoff, Ponzi had a few people shaking their heads and claiming foul—while the masses refused to listen and lost their life savings.
The Buy Side: A Wall Street Trader's Tale of Spectacular Excess
Excess. This book captures it all: from greed to drugs to indulgence, The Buy Side was a must read for researching the setting for my novel—and helped me plan how my character would pride himself on supposedly disallowing the shenanigans described in this book, further setting his character up as someone who knows how to pull the emotional and intellectual strings of those around him.
The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute
How naïve can people be? Naïve enough to buy into the possibility of Beanie Babies (remember those?) rising forever in value, being a long-term investment and even sending children to college. The obsession rose from the work of the creator, Ty Warner, who pulled the strings of this mania.
What happens when you are the scandal that you’re trying to stop? I include this memoir because shame is such an important part of any scandal. Is the perpetrator ashamed? Aware of their guilt? And if so, what is the story they tell themselves even as they know their behavior is destroying their family? This book shines a light on the twisted logic used when we’re hiding from ourselves, as well as the world.
When a scandal unfolds, I wonder two things: What was the self-told story the perpetrator believed that let him hurt so many people? What is it like for his family?
When that scandal has roots in crime, I’m hooked. My fourth novel, The Widow of Wall Street, is rooted in a financial scandal of epic proportion.
During the ten years I worked with criminals, the stories they told to excuse themselves fascinated and repelled me. And I learned how every person on this earth has a story they tell to explain away bad behavior—even if only to themselves.
The Widow of Wall Street explores a man who carries out a Ponzi scheme for decades, keeping his family in the dark as he builds a sham family dynasty until the truth explodes. His wife must learn to survive in the debris and come to grips with the realization that her marriage and family were built on air. Researching brought me from nonfiction to memoir to novels—and what a great ride I had.
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