cover image The Fall of Princes

The Fall of Princes

Robert Goolrick. Algonquin, $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-61620-420-4

The unapologetic excesses of America’s hedonistic 1980s are embodied in Goolrick’s (Heading Out to Wonderful) egotistical protagonist, and this new novel is an addictive slice of semiautobiographical fiction. Goolrick’s unnamed hero is a young, wealthy, arrogant Wall Street commodities trader with a merry band of young millionaire coconspirators in the BSD (big swinging dick) club. His profligate lifestyle, bloated by luxury, drugs, transcontinental parties, and casual sex (“before the plague,” that is), began while he expertly climbed the ranks at his firm where, at 31, he was soon able to “trade shit for silk.” The novel’s jumpy time line artfully and gleefully juxtaposes his lush lifestyle with the immediate adjustment to his shocking job termination, divorce, and defeated return to being “almost a nonperson” in mainstream society. The ascending years spent lavishing in the riches afforded by his livelihood on Wall Street are beautifully peppered with morally authoritative meditations on the specter of AIDS in the 80s (“suddenly, love is fatal”), the interchangeable cultures of excess and dearth, and his new life as a bookstore clerk. As if exorcising the demons of his past, Goolrick vividly plumbs the depths of fortune and regret. The result is a compulsively readable examination of the highs and lows of life in the big city. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Aug.)