Mergers & Acquisitions Review
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If you enjoyed Brights Lights, Big City and The Devil Wears Prada, run—do not walk—to get a copy of Mergers & Acquisitions. It’s a satirical take on life among the rich and powerful in New York City, as seen through the eyes of Tommy Quinn, a young Georgetown graduate who’s just landed what he believes to be the plummiest job of all—as an investment banker at J. S. Spenser. As if that didn’t make life sweet enough, he’s also met the most terrific gal he’s ever laid eyes on: Frances Sloan, daughter of much old money.

Author Vachon has stated that all the characters in his book are based on people he knows or knew, save for Frances. If that’s the case, do all you can to avoid whoever was the model for Roger Thorne, a Princeton grad. This guy is totally without scruples. He’s sex crazy, and he’s out for all he can get. Roger is Tommy’s buddy in the story, which doesn’t say a great deal for Tommy’s early taste in friends.

The narrative opens with a fabulous engagement party at the New York Racquet and Tennis Club. The event is described as being the kind of soiree that you hated loving being there. Only one of a myriad of scenes painted with fine brush strokes, the gathering represents Vachon’s territory when putting in his time at J. P. Morgan. He mines past experiences with gusto, sparking them with whiplash asides.

Vachon has said that the culture of Wall Street has always fascinated him. “The scale of this latest boom—in hedge funds, M&A, and private equity—dwarfs anything produced by a prior prosperity. Young people are making fortunes like never before, and cultural eddies have developed with the hilarity and irony and beauty and brutality that accompany all situations of social extremis.”

Thus, Mergers & Acquisitions is a tale of excess—excess everything—and it’s related with perception, candor, and humor. Vachon received a $650,000 advance for this, his first novel, so he’s obviously thought of as the new NY lit hit. And I have a tendency to agree—because this is a dazzler of a debut.

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