30 January 2008

Chapter Five

This will conclude my reading of the Nicky Marsh book. Her final chapter involves the portrayal of women within the financial world in contemporary Brit fiction.

One of the novels featured here is Allison Pearson's I Don't Know How She Does It (2002). A footnote tells us that Miramax bought the rights to this novel, in the hope it would prve the next Bridget Jones' Diary.

Bridget Jones, though, was an assistant at a book publisher. Pearson's protagonist Kate Reddy, is a hedge fund manager. She has a rather grandiose view of what it means for a woman at the start of the 21st century to manage a hedge fund, thinking: "We are the foundation stones and the females who come after us will scarcely give us a second thought but they will walk on our bones."

The book doesn't have a lot of the detailed accounts of particular trades that get into the sort of "financial thrillers" Marsh discussed in her fourth chapter. Not only doesn't it contain many such passages but, as Marsh puts it, the book "resists" such passages.

"The real dramas in the novel occur not around the fluctuations of currencies or stocks but around the blurry definitions of care and responsibility that economics place upon the people who drive Reddy's car, wash Reddy's clothes, and, most crucially, look after her children."

So (to wrap this up) a bankers life, or a hedge fund managers life, can give rise to drama and literature, just so long as one takes it as a life. And not just as a matter of staring at a screen, or supervising people who stare at screens.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.