Beware of thin ice and dog poo.
Every time I think I’ve missed the timing boat for the review of a book that came out in February 2012 and a movie that “premiered” in October 2011, more tales of wildly privileged people behaving badly revivify their relevance.
First, the ice.
In The Darlings: A Novel, her fiction debut, Cristina Alger, a Harvard-trained former financial analyst and former lawyer, gives us a roman à clef with a little bit of Madoff, a little bit of (son of the South) Walter Noel, a dash of Sir Robert Maxwell, and a nod to Bonfire of the Vanities (when nice cars go to bad neighborhoods).
The Darlings’ picture-perfect world is revealed to be just that: a shiny image reflected by a slick surface. It’s voyeurism at its best to watch the cracks form and widen until the ice shatters, and they all get a series of nasty shocks.
And on a technical side note, Alger did a masterful job with point of view, telling each section of the story from the perspective of a different main character.
And now for the poo.
If you prefer movies to books, here’s one of the best Oscar-nominated films (Best Original Screenplay) that never appeared in a theater near you.
Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Stanley Tucci, Simon Baker, Mary McDonnell and Penn Badgley. In one movie. After seeing the trailer for Margin Call, I could hardly wait for its October 21, 2011 release date. But then, nothing. It was never in any theater that I could find, and I set the search parameters for 100 miles. I finally gave up waiting and watched it via Amazon Instant Video.
According to the movie’s plot, the 2007 collapse of the housing market started with a sincere effort to minimize volatility in the related financial market. The disaster was triggered by an unfortunate math error. The response to the disaster was, of course, a moral failing.
You’ll need one. Go perform at least one act of hands-on charity to get the the stench out of your hair and clothes and get your head back in the right place after your emerge from The Darlings: A Novel and Margin Call.