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Moral Hazard

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  201 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
On Wall Street, reflects Cath, women are about as welcome as fleas in a sleeping bag. Funny, liberal and left-leaning, she is an unlikely candidate to be writing speeches on derivatives in a Manhattan tower, 'putting words in the mouths of plutocrats deeply suspicious of metaphors and words of more than two syllables'. She finds herself on Wall Street because she needs ser ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 27th 2003 by Harpperen (first published 2002)
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Oct 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
A strange book in some ways. I have found that protagonists that are touted as having a notably dry or irreverent wit that they employ to negotiate life's difficulties,often come across on page as being closed off, flat and two dimensional. It's like the author has accepted the characters need to protect themselves with humour and the author hasn't got the heart or fortitude to unlock the the character fully to reveal what is really going on underneath.

I chose the book because I was looking forw
Kay Rollison
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The amazing thing to me is that this book was written in 2002. I hadn’t heard of the concept of moral hazard until the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, but had I read this book before that time, I would have been much better prepared to understand what was happening in 2008, and to grasp the implications of propping up dodgy financial institutions deemed too big to fail. It is almost as if Jennings predicted what actually happened. ‘It’s a time bomb’, as one character notes.

Kate Jennings is an A
Text Publishing
I was commuting between two forms of dementia, two circles of hell. Neither point nor meaning to Alzheimer’s, nor to corporate life, unless you counted the creation of shareholder value.

Such is the predicament of Cath in Kate Jennings’ much-acclaimed 2002 novel of Wall Street recklessness and the torments of Alzheimers.

Concise, uncompromising and eerily prophetic, this is the latest addition to the Text Classics.

Read Gideon Haigh’s excellent introduction, ‘The Devil Whooping it Up’, on the Text
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘He had forgotten to remember.’

Cath takes a job as a speechwriter on Wall Street. She’s not there by choice: she’s there because she needs to earn money to try to look after her husband, Bailey, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. So, Cath’s world now encompasses two nightmares. She is working in the bizarre world of high finance where reality is a foreign country, and living in the sad world of reality where her husband Bailey becomes a foreigner. How can Cath survive? Both nightmares contain mo
Francene Carroll
Oct 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is very prescient considering it was published several years before the GFC. Despite the greed and stupidity she witnessed on Wall St I think even Kate Jennings must be shocked by just how far things have deteriorated since then. The extent of the government bailout, combined with the naked greed of the financial elite who continue to get richer while the rest of society suffer the consequences of their actions is just staggering.

As I was reading this I kept flicking back to the front
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
A deeply sad, engrossing story combining a journey down a dual devastating path of both having a beloved husband diagnosed with Alzheimers and a piercing inside look at the world of high finance where she has taken on a job writing speeches and researching to pay rent and for the nursing home she is ultimately forced to commit her beloved husband. At the time, painfully aware of his express wishes that that never happen and afterwards still suffering anguish at the fact she was unable to do what ...more
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Wow, I thoroughly enjoyed every sentence of this book. This woman is a powerhouse of a writer--that kind of book where you savor each sentence.

OK: the plot is basically that this middle-aged woman who is a hippie, liberal freelance writer has to take a job on Wall Street to earn some money to see her husband who has early-onset Alzheimer's through his illness. I love how she describes her approach as an "anthropologist," stuck in the corporate world, studying the natives in their habitat. I have
Cynthia Vengraitis
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
Slim novel with a flat feel to it. The story of a free lance journalist in her 40s who begins working in investment banking writing speeches when her older husband is diagnosed with alzheimer's disease. 75% of the text is about the banking industry in the mid 90s. She refers to friends and relatives but they never appear in the book. It all takes place either at her work or at her husbands nursing home. And though she seems caring and loving with her husband she never seems like a real person, v ...more
Judith Yeabsley
May 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Brilliantly written 4.5 stars! Fabulously dark, dry, cynical in amusing way chronicling the male, testosterone, no morals world of Wall St. Written way before the GFC it predicts the future in a chillingly accurate way through the eyes of a liberal female ironically there just for the cash (struggling to pay crippling medical expenses). Parallel to the misogynistic greed of the bankers we experience the gradual disintegration of her husband to Alzheimer's. Viewing the descent through the humour ...more
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
This brief novel really packs a wallop, conveying more meaning and emotion than most books four times its length. Two parallel stories about a woman living two parallel worlds: one as a liberal 60's idealist working in the belly of the beast as a Wall Street speechwriter, and the other as a wife struggling with a beloved husband stricken with Alzheimer's. The novel rarely has the two worlds intersect, which is how the protagonist wanted her life ordered. She hates everything about Wall Street, b ...more
Frederick Bingham
Jan 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cath, the main character, is a writer. Her husband, many years older than her, gets Alzheimers and inexorably fades away. She is left to take care of him. At the same time, she gets a job as a speechwriter in a Wall Street investment banking firm. This goes against her liberal education and outlook. She becomes friends with another man at her firm who begins to give her lessons in the world of finance.Cath eventually is forced to make choices in both her personal and professional life that are v ...more
Cat Woods
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A deserved classic.
Kate Jennings is articulate, sincere, flawed and deeply moving in her recounting her relationships, the mundanity and also the minor moments of revelation that make up a life.
For anyone who has loved someone in a totally flawed but horribly devoted way. For anyone who has tried to fit in and been reminded hour upon hour they are an outsider. For anyone who has been through that and will most likely go through it again and knows it's ok.
There are others as wild and silly and fu
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult
The willingness to take risks because the costs will be borne by others. Cath seems to live in two different worlds, both seem unreal. Wall Street in 2002, after the crash and it's most interesting to read this book now because, there was, of course, another crash since then. The story isn't about learning those lessons, it's just interesting to see we didn't. Or Wall Street didn't and you can see why. But Wall Street may not be the most difficult world Cath is in. Her husband,older than her, ha ...more
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Autobiographical fiction in the form of a novella in which Jennings parallels the disintegration of her husband's health through Alzheimer's with her work for a Wall Street investment bank. The amnesia of her husband's illness works as a metaphor for that of financial institutions which seem to forget the impact of their greed, and keep on behaving the same way. For my full review, please see
May 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
I have read this book three times in the last 2 months, the most recent reading was for a book club I am in. I am still overwhelmed by how brilliantly it juxtaposes the decline of the financial markets of the 1990's with the diminishing of mind and body of the narrator, Kate's, older husband, Bailey.

Kate Jennings pulls no punches, and even draws you into the jargon of the financial world. This is a short novel, but what a gem.
Jul 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Reading this in 2013, 11 years after it was written, I didn't really enjoy the workplace part of the story. I found myself glossing over all of that information in order to get back to the story about the relationship between Cath and her husband. I'm sure that is to a large extent because the husband wife story is one of my nightmares. Married to my best friend who is 11 years my senior I live in fear of the possibility that one day he will forget me.
Kelly (TheWellReadRedhead)
The Alzheimer's side of the story was heartbreaking. But the financial side was so filled with Wall Street jargon, it was hard to keep my interest. I see how the two stories were supposed to overlap, I appreciate what she was trying to do...but I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it was written for those of us in, say, the education field. Ha.
Feb 18, 2014 rated it liked it
An interesting story exploring the arrogance of Wall Street (waaayyyy before the 2007 crash, but with an awareness of how brokers were dangerously gambling) juxtaposed with the story of watching a loved one descend into Alzheimer's disease. The writing style is sometimes sparse, which helps to expose the stark difference between these two realities for the protagonist.
Kris McCracken
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
This didn't take long to finish. A novel that weaves the bleak reality of the banking and finance scandals of the 1990s and the slow descent into Alzheimer's (from a carer's perspective). As such, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this would be hard-going, but it is anything but.

Well written, and believable all the way. Highly recommended.
Mar 28, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
Compared to Snake, I found this book boring and superficial. I skipped through most of it and just read the parts about Cath and her husband battling the onset of dementia. The bits about her job in the financial industry were extremely dull.
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
According to the NY Times, this is a fine novel. It is a short novel. It's painless to read but I just don't get it.
Jul 14, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
i cried. twice. and i still didn't care for it.
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Dec 19, 2016
Seth Robinson
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Kate Jennings is a poet, essayist, short-story writer and novelist. Both her novels, Snake and Moral Hazard, were New York Times Notable Books of the Year. She has won the ALS Gold Medal, the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction and the Adelaide Festival fiction prize. Born in rural New South Wales, she has lived in New York since 1979.

Her most recent books are Stanley and Sophie, Quarterly Essay 32: