Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Lisa Black

Lisa Black has spent over twenty years in forensic science, first at the coroner’s office in Cleveland Ohio and now as a certified latent print examiner and CSI at a Florida police dept. Her books have been translated into six languages, one reached the New York Times bestsellers list and one has been optioned for film and a possible TV series.

Black's new novel is Perish.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I read Too Big To Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—And Themselves, by Andrew Ross Sorkin. That I read it at all is something of a bizzarity because business has never interested me. Numbers make my eyes cross. Too many times to count, my husband has asked me what my cousin or nephew or sister-in-law does for a living any my answer was: ‘Something to do with business.’ I read out the entire true crime section at the Cleveland Public Library except for the books dealing with organized crime because gangsters tend to function like a business…booooooring.

But quite some time back I listened to critics who said Barbarians at the Gate was a fascinating tale, tried it, liked it and discovered that non-fiction can be interesting, even when no one gets murdered. And thus I read Too Big To Fail. It explains, step by step, the 2008 financial meltdown and most of the characters swept up in it, whether they deserved to be or not. The book has been criticized for having too much detail about the bankers’ histories, their hobbies and who drives them to work every day, but I didn’t find it boring at all.

Two things stuck with me after I finished reading. These swashbuckling Wall Street types of outsize egos and outsize drive are mostly white men—not too surprisingly—but once in the door they are surprisingly egalitarian. They honestly don’t care if your father was a felon or president of Yale—if you can make money, and keep making money (which is the really hard part), that is all that matters.

And, as one of them explains, what distinguishes success from failure is not just the ability to win but the ability to lose. Everyone is going to make bad calls during their career and lose a great deal of money for one of their clients. You have to be able to withstand being called every name in the book by that client, listen to them tell you that they never want to speak to you again, and yet call them up again the next week a pitch a great tip or product or investment. If you can’t do that, then this is not the job for you.

All in all I found it a fascinating tale of a world I do not know, as well as a cautionary tale of just how fragile the world can become when no one pays sufficient attention.
Learn more about the book and author at Lisa Black's website.

My Book, The Movie: Perish.

--Marshal Zeringue