Fred Waitzkin (Searching for Bobby Fischer
), explores the underbelly of financial ambition in his debut novel, The Dream Merchant
. Jim is the consummate salesman: gracious, persevering, and persuasive. Behind this cultivated exterior and wealthy lifestyle, though, is a greedy extortionist. Jim's story is pieced together through conversations with an admiring, anonymous friend, who has decided to write Jim's biography. When the friend begins research for the biography, Jim has fallen on hard times. He has left his wife for a young Israeli woman, who keeps him captivated by sex. Jim keeps her interested by telling stories from his younger days when he was a millionaire salesman and a gold mine operator in Brazil. The anonymous writer watches Jim "sell" to Mara his ability to make money from nothing. As he speaks, he creates dreams for her that keep her from focusing on...
Beyond the Book
In The Dream Merchant
, Jim made his money in fraudulent ways. Aided by his business partner Marvin Gessler, who was the mastermind of the fraud, Jim made millions through elaborate pyramid schemes.
Pyramid schemes rely on recruiting buyers who then recruit other buyers and so on. The original buyer, the con man, needs other buyers to generate sales before he starts to make money. As each new recruit pays, the original buyer gets a cut. The scheme quickly collapses once the people at the bottom cannot recruit buyers and the money does not...