Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Rediscoveries: Readalikes for a “Fool”

By Nancy Pearl, Guest Blogger

Now that I’ve directed you to satisfying summer reads, it’s time to return to the books that inspired my love of backlist. The third book in the “Book Lust Rediscoveries” series is Frederick Dillen’s wry, funny, and touching novel Fool, which introduces us to one of the most complex main characters in contemporary fiction.

For Christ sake don’t become a fluffmeister are the last words Barnaby Griswold’s father ever says to him. Yet a fluffmeister, a fool, is Barnaby’s default position in life, as much as he may try to be an athlete, a lover, or a pilgrim. Despite the fact that it was originally published in 1999, readers will discover in Fool a novel that could have been written yesterday (or the day before that), because Barnaby is a big-time player in the financial industry, a man who’s incredibly talented at sniffing out the next incredibly lucrative deal. But when it all goes horribly wrong and Barnaby loses everything (job, wife, children, and high six-figure income), he discovers that he has been given one last chance for redemption.

There are many options for readalikes for Fool, depending on what a reader most enjoyed about it.

For those readers like me who were drawn to the lovable, frustrating Barnaby, a man who’s more antihero than hero in his own story:
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Jeff Lindsay’s Darkly Dreaming Dexter and sequels (which are the basis for the hit television series); and Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, with perhaps the most classic antihero of all, Michael Corleone.
I suspect some readers will find Barnaby simply unlikeable, for better and for worse. For them, I’d suggest the following:
  • Tom Perrotta’s black comedy Election, Anne Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz, Lionel Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin, and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge.
If you have patrons interested in reading more fiction about the world of stocks and bonds, hedge funds and commodity trading, I’d point out these titles:
  • Sebastian Faulks’s A Week in December, John Lanchester’s Capital, Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now, and Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities.
And then there are are going to be some readers who want to learn more about the business in which Barnaby made his (lucrative) livelihood. For them, three eminently readable works of nonfiction:
  • Michael Lewis’s Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street and his The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine; and Kirsten Grind’s The Lost Bank: The Story of Washington Mutual‚ The Biggest Bank Failure in American History.





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