Review: The Fall of Princes

The Fall of Princes, Robert Goolrick

Published August 25th 2015 by Algonquin Books

Hardcover, 304 pages

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley

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In the spellbinding new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Robert Goolrick, 1980s Manhattan shimmers like the mirage it was, as money, power, and invincibility seduce a group of young Wall Street turks. Together they reach the pinnacle, achieving the kind of wealth that grants them access to anything—and anyone—they want. Until, one by one, they fall.

With the literary chops of Bonfire of the Vanities and the dizzying decadence of The Wolf of Wall Street, The Fall of Princes takes readers into a world of hedonistic highs and devastating lows, weaving a visceral tale about the lives of these young men, winners all . . . until someone changes the rules of the game. Goolrick paints an authentic portrait of an era, tense and stylish, perfectly mixing adrenaline and melancholy.

Stunning in its acute observations about great wealth and its absence, and deeply moving in its depiction of the ways in which these men learn to cope with both extremes, the novel travels from New York to Paris to Los Angeles to Italy to Las Vegas to London on a journey that is as seductive as it is starkly revealing, a true tour de force.

I am still kind of surprised at how much I liked The Fall of Princes!  I did really like this book though.    The protagonist of this book is barely named, but that isn’t something that matters as he takes you deep into his life.  We follow his rise in power and wealth and then complete fall from Wall Street grace.  He was not a likeable person and at times was really pretty despicable – he couldn’t have cared less.  He’s a self described “Big Swinging Dick” to give you an idea – wouldn’t you be surprised to like him?  Yet somehow Goolrick made me care about his story.  I found myself feeling sympathetic towards a character I had mildly despised. We see him throw away his wife, job and most of his possessions without a care and face a totally different world.

It’s hard to talk about the eighties without using the word “fucking” a lot, since I spent a great deal of time either in a rage or seeking out someone to have sex with me, or both simultaneously, even though it’s a word I rarely if ever use now.  

Maybe it was  the draw of hearing about New York in the ‘80s and the madness of kids making money faster than they could spend it?  Then those same kids slipping into the terror of the AIDS epidemic – so terrifying.   Then the quick fall from grace and into a slum.  All around I felt caught up in the largess and then the downfall.  This was a vivid and surprisingly emotional read.  

4 stars!

Thank you Algonquin Books and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion.  

All quotes taken from an uncorrected copy in advance of publication.

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3 Comments

  1. I’ve only read A Reliable Wife by Goolrick, so WOW this sounds different! I admire an author who can go to some wildly different settings and types of characters and be successful. I’ll keep my eyeballs out for this one…even though I normally wouldn’t have considered it “my kind” of book. 🙂

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