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A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  376 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
On his first assignment for a rapacious hedge fund, Gabriel embarks to Bolivia at the end of 2005 to ferret out insider information about the plans of the controversial president-elect. If Gabriel succeeds, he will get a bonus that would make him secure for life. Standing in his way are his headstrong mother, herself a survivor of Pinochet’s Chile, and Gabriel’s new love i
Paperback, 289 pages
Published April 12th 2011 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Stunningly well written book that left me deep in thought at the conclusion. No doubt in my mind this one will be showing up on award lists as a winner.

I've rarely wished I knew someone who read the same book, but today I do. Incredible first novel, I will watch for his next, that's for sure! Will be recommending this one to our college's book club as one of those books that begs for discussion afterwards.

This book was so good, I'll make sure it is in our local library.

*Note: This book was pro
Jan 10, 2011 Julia rated it it was amazing
There is something about picking up a book I don't know anything about and finding it resonates with me. This is a book like that. It's set in La Paz, Bolivia, a city I once spent a week visiting. Mountford describes this city exactly as I experienced it as an American traveler. The main character lives in a hotel room near where my friends live there, and he walks streets I walked and visits cafes I visited there. And he experiences them so similarly to the way I felt about them that it's a lit ...more
May 14, 2011 Ken rated it really liked it
Bolivia? Hedge funds?

You can't fault this book for being run-of-the-mill. None of that American suburban angst blah-blah-blah (go to the mall, have a drink, etc.), and none of that "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium" Europe yet again stuff, either. La Paz, of all places! And a young Americano who wants to make a lot of money in a hurry because he cannot believe his good luck, being newly-employed by a rapacious hedge fund (wait, is that redundant?).

Thing is, he needs information, and he ten
Mar 03, 2012 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
My brother gave me this book to read because it's about an ambiguously Hispanic guy named Gaby. He said he thinks it's a "guy book", but I loved it - whatever that means. This is the best modern novel I've read in awhile. Just one of those can't-put-it-down, made me laugh then made me cry, really really care about the characters kind of books.
Apr 05, 2011 Neal rated it really liked it
In one chapter of my forthcoming biography of Robert Ripley, I recount the eccentric, world-traveling “Believe It or Not” cartoonist’s months-long journey through South America in 1925, during which Ripley writes that Bolivia’s sky-high capital, La Paz, looked as if someone had flung the city of Reno into the Grand Canyon. So when fellow Seattleite Peter Mountford, a friend of a former newspaper colleague, offered to send me an advance copy of his first novel, which takes place in La Paz in late ...more
Jeanine Walker
Jan 24, 2011 Jeanine Walker rated it it was amazing
This novel is beautifully written, replete with large themes and small insights, and Mountford’s deftly worded explanations about the workings of a hedge fund in a small third-world country is a college course in itself. I found myself fascinated by Gabriel, the main character—he reads to me, for much of the book, like the hero I want to be: smart, crafty, appealing and attractive, and able to succeed at making, in his words, “a s***load of money.” And while the reader hopes—and expects—that he’ ...more
Ravi Jain
Feb 26, 2012 Ravi Jain rated it really liked it
My complaints with the novel are really around the use of the women as stand-ins for the political conflicts, and sex as the vehicle for plot twists. This seems shallow and, even for someone with Gabriel's background, a bit too convenient, and too close to a Matt Damon or Tom Cruise movie.

Nonetheless, the novel seems dead-on in its description of the wearying life of the expatriate press and IMF/World Bank reps, who are always metaphorically in Joan Didion's or Pico Iyer's airport lounge, always
missy jean
Aug 26, 2011 missy jean rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I cruised through this book and I've been thinking about it a lot since I finished it. It's like a modernized Waiting for the Barbarians, but in reverse. I simultaneously love and am depressed by what Mountford has to say about globalized capitalism... and from a craft point of view, this novel did a fine job of creating a genuinely unlikeable narrator and still making me care about what happens to him. (I'm struggling with this on a project of my own so I took lots of notes on this point.)

Nat K
Literary Review The
Feb 06, 2013 Literary Review The rated it it was amazing
By Gabriel Blackwell

For The Literary Review
Volume 54 "Emo, Meet Hole"

I am as fascinated by A&E’s reality show Hoarders as I am terrified by it. I fear this
compulsion as I fear the cliff’s edge—I have no wish to throw myself off, but what if
I suddenly did? We say that compulsion is a slippery slope, as if we could ski to safety, but to me it seems a drop-off. Beware. The fascination is in watching people lose
the ground beneath their feet through a single moment’s inattention. Compulsion,
Dec 15, 2012 Raphaela rated it really liked it
This is a review I wrote for Bookslut:

Peter Mountford’s debut novel, A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism, provides refreshing insight into the seemingly clear-cut stories of unchecked corporate greed which have become ubiquitous in recent headlines. Mountford’s portrayal of Gabriel de Boya, a young hedge fund lackey who is seduced by the ethically sticky world of Big Finance, brings a much-needed human element to the pervasive theme of big-business avarice.

Gabriel is on assignment in La Paz,
Aug 05, 2011 Laura rated it it was amazing
"[...]Despite being one of the safest and most prosperous countries in human history, the United States was actually a very bizarre place. Elsewhere in the world, the unattainability of great fame and fortune was more readily accepted, and so life was less driven by grandiose fantasies. Elsewhere, people wouldn't tell their children that they could achieve anything, because, of course, they couldn't."

I saw Peter Mountford's book while browsing through NetGalley and was intrigued by the title. T
Jan 27, 2013 Jon-Erik rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Debbie Reschke Schug
Jan 16, 2012 Debbie Reschke Schug rated it it was amazing
After I had gotten my master’s in journalism and decided that I could no longer stand to do my night-shift position as a morning news producer in a market 119 TV station in southern Illinois even though I had no other job prospects, I moved into my parent’s house in Chicago.
This was the summer of 2005, so I was experiencing my-own-private-recessionary job market in a boom time. Everyone around me seemed to be doing great, though, buying houses and expensive cars, wearing fancy shoes and glasses
Pamela Pickering
Sep 18, 2011 Pamela Pickering rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
If I had rated this book immediately after I read it I would have given it 4 stars. It's been a week later, and the more time that has passed the more I've been thinking about it. Because it has made a long lasting impression on me I have to increase my rating to 5.

The book is well written, intellectual, and thoughtful and it will cause the reader several moments to pause and to examine our own lives. This passage made a big impression on me. Though he didn't have the words for it yet, he woul
Richard Bon
Oct 23, 2011 Richard Bon rated it really liked it
As I read this book, I came to despise the protagonist, the young, uber agressive, lustful (of money and women), ethically challenged Gabriel. The story follows his work during the final months of 2005 in Bolivia conducting clandestine "research" for a hedge fund, usually under the cover of being a freelance jounalist.

I became frustrated with how seemingly easy it was for Gabriel to extract information from lovers, to both of whom he reveals his true purpose in Bolivia. Each of these women, whos
Regan Hawkins
Mar 27, 2012 Regan Hawkins rated it it was amazing
Gritty, visceral and rivetingly readable I can't believe my good fortune to have spotted this novel perched upon my local library's recommended shelf. Hotter than a pistol Mountford's prose is piquant and snappy, I for one am hanging out for his follow up. Now etched into my mind's-eye the plot captured time and place to take me on a journey I won't forget in a hurry. I've read a bit of NF about the hedge funds and financial meltdown but didn't ecpect to find this sort of insight, to the hubris ...more
Ruth Harlow
Aug 09, 2016 Ruth Harlow rated it really liked it
I read this book in early summer or fall of about 2012. I recall it was a time when Chessie could go for long walks in the neighborhood and I often carried a book with me to read while she mosied along and sniffed every tree and leaf. She was old enough that I indulged her pleasure if the weather was good and I was off of work.

I have forgotten many books but this one I remember - partly due to the weird cover art and long title. I should remember to recommend this book to Keith when he has more
Jun 19, 2011 Amanda rated it really liked it
For some reason, I always want to give books fractions of stars. A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism<\i> should probably get 3.75 stars. It's not quite four, but definitely not three.
Jason recommended this to me, and I can see why he enjoyed it. Mountford's writing style is spare, but he finds the perfect words to describe people/things; his dialogue is also quite good. The plot was complex enough to be engaging, but not complex enough to disorient a reader without a background in Bol
Apr 26, 2011 camilla rated it really liked it
A great debut in the vein of Adam Haslett and Jess Walters, A Young Man's Guide introduces a talented new voice in morally ambiguous Gabriel. The son of a headstrong single mother who fled Pinochet and became a liberal professor in California, Gabriel thrillingly takes a job with a predatory hedge fund to go undercover in La Paz, Bolivia at the end of 2005. After casting a web of lies and deceit he must decide where his ultimate loyalties lie when he starts to fall for the new president-elect's ...more
Aug 19, 2011 Marquina rated it it was amazing
This book is exactly the type I enjoy reading. I had no preconceived notions and learned quite a bit about Bolivia, as well as what thoughts swim inside the mind of a hedge-funder - hypothetically, of course. The history of industry in La Paz, Bolivia and how it relates to the global economy was eye-opening. Prior to reading this book, I had known little about the country. The novel is a well-written depiction of how politics, industry, poverty, and greed shape lives. I set down the book several ...more
Debbie Boucher
Jun 05, 2011 Debbie Boucher rated it really liked it
I read this because a friend of mine went ot Peter Mountford's book launch in Seattle. She suggested it because she knows my third book is set in Bolivia. Peter's book is set there as well, though the Bolivia he writes about was a bit foreign to me. He lived in Ecuador and visited Bolivia, and that shows, but it's stil a great book. I loved his writing style. I loved that I was enthralled by the real subject of this book which is what it's like to work for a hedge fund. Who knew how interesting ...more
Josh Friedlander
Jan 03, 2016 Josh Friedlander rated it really liked it
A smart and compelling trip into Latin American politics, international finance, and healthy expense accounts. A young, bright college graduate is offered a Faustian job snooping into Bolivia's economic prospects on behalf of a powerful hedge fund, a fact he must assiduously hide from his Chilean exile mother, and his girlfriend, press attaché to Evo Morales. Things get complicated quickly. The book succeeds in educating (about Bolivian history, game theory, short selling) while it entertains, c ...more
I'm very interested in reading this book. The reviews that I've seen are great, and I love the fact that Peter Mountford, the author, has lived in so many places, including Ecuador, Scotland, Mexico, New York, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles (and I'm sure I left a few places out.) I love reading books written by well-traveled writers because they really can give the locations in their books a "sense of place" -- something that is so wonderful about many books. This also seems to be a very inter ...more
Jul 16, 2015 Kevin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Received a galley through a web promotion and got into the story very easily. There's a quality to the writing - I want to call it "new masterpiece." The voice is strong and sure, and the details are so well-rendered. Though it's clearly a contemporary novel, it has the feeling of being written a while ago mostly because it's drawing from a great literary tradition and it feels strong enough to last. On top of the stellar quality of the writing is the intriguing story. It's commentary on globali ...more
Eli Hastings
Oct 07, 2011 Eli Hastings rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: Peter is a friend and colleague.

There are countless things to commend about this novel: the authenticity of the representation of Bolivian culture; the twistedly true rendition of love affairs; the depth of the author's (and protagonist's) understanding of politics and economics; the success of the novelization of what was the author's experience (vs. the feeling that he should have written a memoir). But most of all what's superb is the moral distress of the protagonist, the teeter
Adrian Mendoza
Jan 17, 2013 Adrian Mendoza rated it really liked it
The financial jargon and historical references may alienate some readers, but this book is more than a formulaic attempt at imaginative non-fiction. Mountford introduces characters that understand that risk and entropy are at the forefront of everything society holds dear, and that your salary and your relationships have the quality of transactions recorded and scrutinized as a means of mental exercise.
Murray Aldrich
Aug 18, 2011 Murray Aldrich rated it really liked it
I cared about the protaganist but also wanted to see him get his come-uppance for being the shit he was. The book takes place in La Paz Bolivia, not a common locale for novels, and because of this, there is a specialness to the narrative as the reader gets a picture painted of a classic 3rd world capital with all its beauty and warts exposed. Excellent read, highly recommended
Sep 19, 2011 Ann rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookclub
I loved the city description on the first page, then I panicked that I would hate the rest because I didn't want to think about hedge funds. Instead, I found that I really enjoyed the character development (even though I didn't like the guy) and felt that there's probably a lot of true life people just like him. Made me think and it was nice reading outside my box.
Jan 23, 2012 Kate rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Josh Ferris
Recommended to Kate by: Mom, Paul
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Devilishly, painfully, wonderfully funny. Even my strictly nonfiction-reading sweetie loved this book -- the first novel he's read in years. I am looking forward to teaching this book in my "Contemporary Literature" class at Pacific Lutheran University in January 2012!
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Peter Mountford's debut novel A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism won the 2012 Washington State Book Award in fiction, and was a finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Prize. His second novel The Dismal Science was named a New York Times Editor's Choice, and was a finalist for a 2015 Washington State Book Award.

After reading The Dismal Science, Sam Lipsyte wrote: "The Dismal Science is exub
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