"Then it is dark; a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains." - John Cheever

Saturday, January 31, 2009

When central bankers rescued, then ruined, the world

John Lanchester seems to have been picking up some work for the New Yorker lately. This review of a book about central bankers is up to his usual standard - although he's Americanised his style a wee bit, or the editor has. Turns out his dad worked at HSBC in Hong Kong when he was a kid, which might explain his fascination with the global financial system over the last couple of years - over and above the more obvious reasons.

11 comments:

Colin said...

Actually, it seems he's been writing for them for some time. There are 17 of his articles here. The one about happiness is pretty good.

Colin said...

looks like the link didn't work, but put his name into the 'author' field of the NYer search page to get there

Tom said...

Good stuff. I'm a massive Lanchester fan. He's incredibly intelligent and funny on a whole range of issues (football, food, politics), but unlike many literary writers seems especially knowledgeable on technology and finance. Also, despite being so insightful, he always manages to come across as a decent bloke with good values.

I've read some of his stuff about his father before, in Granta. I think his dad was very much an 'old school' banker who was always very cautious, sober and rule-abiding, and never made large amounts of money. So you can see why Lanchester's pretty scathing about the current generation.

Colin said...

Although Paul says that he was dismissive and superior towards him when he tried to get a job at LRB upon leaving university.

Colin said...

Good one, I didn't know about the Granta article. I do like his stuff - they should do a collection of his journalism. I read the Debt to Pleasure, but wasn't so keen on his fiction style.

Colin said...

The Granta piece ends with the line "Whatever else I did with my working life I wasn't going to spend it doing something I hated." Hm.

Tom said...

Yes, that's the Granta article - really very good. Surprised to hear that he was supercilious to paul, though maybe he's got that in him as well. Certainly "Debt to pleasure" (which I absolutely loved) had that element at the heart of it. I've read his other novels as well, but agree that literary journalism probably his best medium. He reminds me a lot of Martin Amis, and I think he's a big admirer.

Colin said...

He doesn't have Amis's self-regard though. Journalism by Martin Amis (much as I love the collected volume) is always really about Martin Amis showing you his intellect, whereas Lanchester is clever without showing off about it so much.

john said...

Just read the happiness one, very good. Who's Paul?

Colin said...

My boss and Tom's former boss. He was a year or two below Lanchester at Oxford.

Tom said...

Yes, I think they both helped run the Oxford Literary Society or some such thing. I agree Col - Lanchester manages to be incredibly insightful without ever sticking his cleverness in your face.