Today I am recommending The Fall of Princes--the third novel by Robert Goolrick. The Fall of Princes is an irresistible read about the iconic figure of 1980’s greed—the Wall Street Trader and his inevitable downward spiral.
The unnamed narrator, who we later come to know as Rooney, tells his story through a series of vignettes that recount his experiences—the rise to great wealth, his recklessly extravagant and wasteful lifestyle, and his fateful mistake with a powerful client that ends his career.
While Rooney is egotistical, arrogant and despicable during his days as a trader and his nights spent in hedonistic excess in the clubs and streets of New York City—this novel isn’t a celebration of these things. Goolrick beautifully examines the depths of these experiences with wistfulness and regret, never failing to tell us about the damage caused to people along the way.
He is able to convey the tragic appeal of Rooney’s lifestyle in an unforgettable rush of prose and captures how the emerging AIDS epidemic transformed the culture of the 1980’s.
The story shifts back and forth in time to artfully contrast the extravagance of Rooney’s wealth and success to his becoming just another ‘unnamed’ person in mainstream society. At one point, Rooney reflects that “when you lose everything, you don’t die. You just continue in ordinary pants with nothing in your pockets.” Goolrick has referred to this book as both novel and autobiography, giving the reader beautiful writing as well as emotional truth in this compelling and unapologetic story.
Check out The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick, and other cautionary tales like it, at the Sioux City Public Library.
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