Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Reviews of Ways and Means by Daniel Lefferts

Ways and Means

A Novel

by Daniel Lefferts

Ways and Means by Daniel Lefferts X
Ways and Means by Daniel Lefferts
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Feb 2024, 400 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Jillian Bell
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A searing debut novel about a striving finance student, the line between ambition and greed, and the disordered politics of our era.

Alistair McCabe comes to New York with a plan. Young, handsome, intelligent, and gay, he hopes to escape his Rust Belt poverty and give his mother a better life by pursuing a career in high finance. But by the spring of 2016, Alistair's plan has come undone: His fantasy banking job has eluded him, he's mired in student debt, and in his desperation he's gone to work for an enigmatic billionaire whose ambitions turn out to be far darker than Alistair could have imagined. By the time Alistair uncovers his employer's secret, his life is in danger and he's forced to go on the run.

Meanwhile, Alistair's paramours, an older couple named Mark and Elijah, must face their own moral and financial dilemmas. Mark, nearing the end of his trust fund, takes a job with his father's mobile-home empire that forces him to confront the unsavory foundations of his family's wealth, while Elijah, a failed painter, throws in his lot with an artist-provocateur whose latest project transforms the country's political chaos into a thing of alluring, amoral beauty. As the nation hurtles toward a breaking point, Alistair, Mark, and Elijah must band together to save one another and themselves.

Propulsive, exuberant, and profoundly observed, Ways and Means is an indelible, clear-eyed investigation of class and ambition, sex and art, and politics and power in twenty-first century America.

Sentimental Education

Most days Alistair got up at six and stayed up until midnight. He read textbook chapters his professors assumed no one would read. He did the nonrequired supplemental problem sets they put on CourseWorks. He highlighted and underlined and highlighted and underlined. He emailed his professors with follow-up questions and news links pertaining to class discussions. He was only mildly deterred by the fact that they only emailed him back half the time. When his brain needed a rest he went to the gym, where with archaeological fervor he uncovered the lineaments of his pecs, his biceps, his triceps, his abs. He also kept up with his Economist, his Wall Street Journal, his New York Times Business Day. He followed the first stirrings of the 2014 midterms. He called his mother.

"Weather says a strong change of bloodshed next year," Maura said, referring to the elections. "Red upon red upon red."

Alistair offered a commiserating sigh. His mother had been hammering the ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The push and pull between Mark, Elijah and Alistair is part of what makes this book so fascinating. Free spirit Elijah, with a penchant for pushing back against his and Mark's bourgeois lifestyle, is the one who initially suggests inviting a third person into their bed. But it is straight-laced Mark who falls the hardest for Alistair, feeling that in their desire for respectability they are on some level kindred spirits. Elijah can sense Mark's passion for their new lover, which only drives the longtime partners further apart. Alistair's presence uncovers and deepens pre-existing tensions between Mark and Elijah. Ways and Means is not a satire, but it is quietly witty, especially in the dialogue. With its cast of morally gray but profoundly likable characters, this book skewers the worlds of finance and high-profile contemporary art while addressing themes of generational trauma and redemption...continued

Full Review Members Only (818 words)

(Reviewed by Jillian Bell).

Media Reviews

Debutiful
What happens when the American Dream fails you almost instantly? Lefferts explores a finance bro who wasn't while he tackles ambition and drive in a biting expose.

Them
Taking place in the shadow of the 2016 political upheaval and the disillusionment that follows, Daniel Lefferts' debut novel puts quintessential millennial striving under the microscope to glorious effect… Alistair McCabe, a gay Rust Belt transplant to NYC, is like so many of us: working for someone shady in order to get out of student debt. But the secrets his billionaire employer is hiding end up being dangerous enough that Alistair himself has to go on the run. His lovers, Mark and Elijah, are struggling with their own jobs and attendant moral compromises.

Electric Literature
Alistair McCabe, a young gay college student from the Rust Belt, dreams of a career in high finance, a fantasy turned nightmare when he finds himself entangled with an enigmatic billionaire whose nefarious ambition puts Alistair's life at risk. Lefferts's debut, an astute examination the complex intersection of money and intimacy, traces Alistair's descent alongside the dissolution of the relationship between his paramours, an artistic couple with their own financial and existential woes.

Literary Hub
[A]n astute examination the complex intersection of money and intimacy...Alistair McCabe, a young gay college student from the Rust Belt, dreams of a career in high finance, a fantasy turned nightmare when he finds himself entangled with an enigmatic billionaire whose nefarious ambition puts Alistair's life at risk. Lefferts's debut...traces Alistair's descent alongside the dissolution of the relationship between his paramours, an artistic couple with their own financial and existential woes.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Ambitious and exciting...Lefferts's nimble sense of scale enables him to convincingly depict the blue-chip firms who rejected Alistair and exploit the housing market, then zoom in for poignant and subtle psychological realism. The results are electrifying.

Kirkus Reviews
Compelling ... In [Ways and Means], the personal, often bodily drama of coming-of-age is inextricable from the inhuman forces of capital.

Author Blurb Anthony Marra, New York Times bestselling author of Mercury Pictures Presents and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
Deadly serious in ambition, wildly entertaining in execution, Ways and Means is a remarkably accomplished debut that charts the fault lines of class, politics, art, and desire during a period of American crisis. Every line of this gorgeous novel glows with Daniel Lefferts' intelligence and compassion.

Author Blurb Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author of Our Country Friends
A work of enormous wit, humor, and passion that captures life in turbo capitalist America with compassion and grace

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Consensual Non-Monogamy in Literature

Recent research suggests about 4-5% of Americans are currently in relationships that break the convention of monogamy. While there is some fluidity to the terms used for different types of non-monogamy, an open relationship often refers to a couple being romantically and emotionally, but not sexually, monogamous, while polyamory often refers to the practice or option of having multiple relationships of a sexual and romantic nature. The common factor in all consensually non-monogamous relationships is that, by definition, everyone involved in the arrangement is aware of and consents to the terms of it.

With the visibility of non-monogamous relationships on the rise, we're also seeing more of them in the literary world. In Ways and ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Ways and Means, try these:

  • Age of Vice jacket

    Age of Vice

    by Deepti Kapoor

    Published 2024

    About this book

    More by this author

    This is the age of vice, where money, pleasure, and power are everything, and the family ties that bind can also kill.

  • Vladimir jacket

    Vladimir

    by Julia May Jonas

    Published 2023

    About this book

    A provocative, razor-sharp, and timely debut novel about a beloved English professor facing a slew of accusations against her professor husband by former students - a situation that becomes more complicated when she herself develops an obsession of her own...

Read-Alikes are one of the many benefits of membership. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Last Bloodcarver
    The Last Bloodcarver
    by Vanessa Le
    The city-state of Theumas is a gleaming metropolis of advanced technology and innovation where the ...
  • Book Jacket: Say Hello to My Little Friend
    Say Hello to My Little Friend
    by Jennine CapĂł Crucet
    Twenty-year-old Ismael Reyes is making a living in Miami as an impersonator of the rapper/singer ...
  • Book Jacket: The Painter's Daughters
    The Painter's Daughters
    by Emily Howes
    Peggy and Molly Gainsborough are sisters and best friends, living an idyllic life in 18th-century ...
  • Book Jacket: Beverly Hills Spy
    Beverly Hills Spy
    by Ronald Drabkin
    When it comes to espionage, not only is truth stranger than fiction, sometimes it can be downright ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
A Great Country
by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
A novel exploring the ties and fractures of a close-knit Indian-American family in the aftermath of a violent encounter with the police.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The House on Biscayne Bay
    by Chanel Cleeton

    As death stalks a gothic mansion in Miami, the lives of two women intertwine as the past and present collide.

  • Book Jacket

    The Stone Home
    by Crystal Hana Kim

    A moving family drama and coming-of-age story revealing a dark corner of South Korean history.

Who Said...

The only real blind person at Christmas-time is he who has not Christmas in his heart.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

S B the B

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.