Local author takes jaded look at Wall Street
“Wall and Mean,” the debut novel from Tom Bernard, a Wall Street bond trader turned Aspen resident, takes the reader into the bull market of the early 1990s, and the mind of a problem gambler who aims to exploit it.From the book’s start it’s clear Bernard knew his way around Wall Street. Indeed, by the time he was 30 years old he was the managing director at Salomon Brothers, so Bernard’s got his finger on the pulse of the manic market and the profiteers it attracts.
“Wall and Mean” has got a beach-read feel to it. It moves along at a brisk pace, yet the readers who may most appreciate it are stock-market fans and compulsive gamblers.That’s because the novel’s primary character, George Wilhelm, finds himself tangled in the cross hairs of a nasty gambling addiction (wagering on baseball and football) and his professional role in the futures market, all the while trying to manage a social life where sex and drugs are no scarce commodities. If this were a screenplay, imagine “Wall Street” meets the “Bad Lieutenant.” While on the outside he’s mingling with the high-rolling financiers, on the inside Wilhelm is grappling with a wicked gambling compulsion; things get so bad that his unpaid bookie is ready to turn him over to his supervisor, and effectively end his young career. Desperate to keep his cover intact and his bookie happy, George pays a weekly vig of $25,000 and hatches a scheme – his biggest wager ever – to defraud investors.
“Wall and Mean” intertwines the romance of greed and the perils of desperation with plenty of stereotypes and no shortage of twisted humor. But there’s nothing greedy about the author’s motives – the earnings from the book will be donated to Cure Autism Now and Safeminds.
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To commemorate Earth Day 2021, the Aspen Times Weekly asked six Roaring Fork Valley leaders on how we are and aren’t being good environmental stewards.