The Dismal Science: A Novel

The Dismal Science: A Novel

Peter Mountford

Language: English

Pages: 230

ISBN: 1935639722

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Mountford's follow up to A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism is at once a cogent political drama and an acute meditation on the fragile nature of identity.

he Dismal Science tells of a middle-aged vice president at the World Bank, Vincenzo D’Orsi, who publicly quits his job over a seemingly minor argument with a colleague. A scandal inevitably ensues, and he systematically burns every bridge to his former life. After abandoning his career, Vincenzo, a recent widower, is at a complete loss as to what to do with himself. The story follows his efforts to rebuild his identity without a vocation or the company of his wife. An exploration of the fragile nature of identity, The Dismal Science reveals the terrifying speed with which a person’s sense of self can be annihilated. It is at once a study of a man attempting to apply his reason to the muddle of life and a book about how that same ostensible rationality, and the mathematics of finance in particular, operates―with similarly dubious results―in our world.

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he, Hamilton, was at work already and Vincenzo was not. Not that they were competing for any professional territory, but the number implied something about their differing degrees of enthusiasm. 44 Peter Mount ford Hamilton had already spoken to his bosses at the State Department, no doubt. The board’s annual review of Bolivia had come and gone without incident recently—Hamilton had not said a single word during the entire meeting—and the Bank’s policy in Bolivia wouldn’t be up for review by

in part, a way of sublimating any lingering guilt he felt 96 Peter Mount ford over his part in Vincenzo’s flameout. Under no ordinary circumstances would he express enthusiasm for what was clearly a questionable decision; only guilt could elicit such an outpouring of optimism. “I should draw them out more,” Vincenzo said. “You’ve got a month, I think, to make a move. If you play it right, you could be more influential in retirement than you were at the Bank. You could become an Italian

time was clear. But he’d already been hasty, so he decided to defer the decision for the time being, see what happened. “Why do you really want to come, Dad?” Leonora said when he called to tell her that he was fleeing the media onslaught. “I’ll stay out of your way,” he said. “I’ll be miles away from Brooklyn. I plan to stay at the W Hotel in Midtown. Do you know the one? I hear it’s nice.” “Don’t be weird, Dad,” she said. “I can’t wait to see you. It’ll be fun. And really I’m so thrilled that

it was cooler. And while Vincenzo adored looking at his young daughter and she smiled at him, too—a sunburst of a smile that ignited circuits in new sectors of his soul—and he felt warmer around her than he did around anyone else, including Cristina, time was a harsh mistress. Time strained them until there was a good fissure and it was clear that Leonora was Cristina’s baby. Diaper, feed, cry—it was really up to Cristina, since Vincenzo was forever at work. Leonora was fascinated with her

breakfast and the empty plates had been carted away. She smiled immediately, warmly, and marched toward him, and he felt his heart lift idiotically to meet her. He stood up and extended his hand, but she slapped it away and kissed him on the cheek, dropped her newspapers down on the table. “You hungry?” he said, hoping that she didn’t see that he was blushing. She nodded and beckoned the waiter. “Sorry I’m late.” She fixed Vincenzo with a deliberate gaze and said, “I had a very late night.” “Your

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