Monday, September 3, 2007

Confession$ of a Wall Street Shoeshine Boy by Doug Stumpf

In Confession$ of a Wall Street Shoeshine Boy, Brazilian born Gil is a shoeshine boy at Medved, Morningstar while Greg Waggoner is a reporter searching for a big story which will be his first big break at Glossy magazine. Greg thinks that Gil is his ticket to stardom after he learns that Gil has overheard a very important conversation between a trader, Jeff Steed, and one of the big bosses, Bill Bigelow.

Stumpf’s book is an unusual but very interesting look at a famous American icon through the eyes of a shoeshine boy. It would have been a very different story had the book been called Confession$ of a Sleazy-Crooked Wall Street Trader. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

I had a difficult time reading the sections with Gil’s broken English. I had to slow down and read very carefully. Not something I’m used to, so it was a little distracting at first. However, I found that the broken English really provided a distinct voice for Gil. His chapters were very different from those of Greg’s. I didn’t really enjoy reading about the adolescent/locker room talk antics of Gil and the traders, but that really provided lots of insight into their characters. With this story, the author proved that money couldn’t buy manners or sophistication.

Although part 1 gave a lot of background information, I much preferred reading parts 2 and 3. Gil’s life in Brazil and upbringing were interesting (part 2) as was the insider trading matter between Steed and Bigelow (part 3).

I didn’t appreciate the cover art at first; I thought it was sort of plain. However, after I noticed the reflection in the shine on the shoe and the saw the new main jacket colour (red) on Amazon, I gained a new appreciation for it. It’s cool.

Even though Gil didn’t understand a lot of what was being said around him at the firm, I think he made out pretty well for himself. I’m wondering if he was actually smarter than he was made out to be. The money he received certainly didn’t change him. It changed what he could do, but in the end, he wanted to treat his employees like he wanted to be treated on Wall Street, fairly and with respect.

Overall, it was a pretty good read. I’d definitely recommend it to those looking for something out of the ordinary.

I got this book from the HarperCollins Canada Reading Group on Facebook.

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