Stacey International, £12.95 Order at a discount from the Independent Online Shop
Client Service, By Shelby Tucker
Financial scams are nothing new. This exuberant satire dissects the art of fraud, 1960s style
Saturday 11 August 2012
Shelby Tucker, an anglicised American lawyer in his seventies who recently hitch-hiked in Afghanistan and Iran, is a brilliant lunatic, the kind of saintly outsider who sees through the communal delusions of our era. His first non-fiction book, about being kidnapped by Communist insurgents in the Burmese jungle, was hailed by Colin Thubron as "a surreal mixture of Boy's Own derring-do and expert knowledge". Now he has written a novel.
Tucker's first fiction takes on the empty promises of the world financial system in a coruscating satire that manipulates a cast of hundreds in several continents. As a Postscript points out, the book's central organism, a labyrinthine scam called World of Finance, caricatures IOS, the mutual funds business set up by Bernie Cornfeld in the 1960s with slogans like "Do you sincerely want to be rich?" That fraudulent bubble burst in bankruptcies.
But Client Service is equally relevant to the 21st-century near-collapse of the banking system. The names of the crooked financiers, including Clovis Hoof, Pierre Sansloy, Henri Sansjoy and the "legal counsel and master of detail" Sleek McCool tell their own story. Crooked language is at the heart of the relentless expansion of World of Finance. Floating on cunningly crafted slogans, its 15,000-strong fleet of salesmen/dupes expands through over 100 countries to suck in character after character, from "Bone" Saxon, the honest American football player invalided out of sport, to desperately keen Indian Harbinder Govinda, whose briefcase ends up the sea. Harbinder has learned the hard way that "entering the Maritime Market" means trying to sell the Fenner Biddup Offshore Fund to enraged deckhands in Mumbai. No one is too poor to escape the attentions of the "WoFers", a swarm of parasites who sow the corruption of infinite hope and subsequent despair. Evelyn Waugh's influence shows in Tucker's brief, sharp vignettes and in the way he makes the reader deduce inner emotion from external details.
But the genius of this ambitious subject is all his own, as are his glimpses of the beautiful natural universe against which tiny human beings prance, the sky above them "robin's egg blue turning to silver''. This book is a rarity, at once deeply serious and absurdly enjoyable, once you get over the sheer weirdness of the financial world. Read it now, before the next wave of irrational exuberance drowns us all.
Buy Client Service from independentbooksdirect.co.uk for £11.65 (RRP £12.95) including postage or call 0843 0600030
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
- 3 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
- 4 AirAsia flight QZ8501 missing: Search for plane carrying 162 passengers from Indonesia to Singapore suspended overnight
- 5 Game of Thrones is most-pirated TV show of 2014
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The golden age of TV comedy is here
The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
From Marvel to Star Wars: The rise of cinema’s shared universes
Exodus: Gods and Kings banned in the UAE for 'religious mistakes'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk