The Wolf of Wall Street
by Jordan Belfort
Published September 2007
Goodreads: See here
Featured image from my instagram: @bookbastion
Synopsis at a Glance:
By day he made thousands of dollars a minute on Wall Street, by night he spent it as fast as he could on drugs, sex and international globe trotting. This is the story of Jordan Belfort, the self-proclaimed “Wolf of Wall Street,” told in his own words. In his tell-all autobiography, Belfort narrates a story of greed, excess and power that if told on television, would be too wild to be believed. Threaded with elements of both his personal and professional life, this story chronicles Belfort’s life of excess and law-breaking, and how it eventually caught up with him.
Reading this was an exercise both in suspension of disbelief, and complete mastery of frustration for me.
This is definitely not a book I would normally choose for myself. Most of you know by now that fiction and fantasy are my jam, my last class for University required us to read nonfiction book somewhat pertaining to ethics and business, and this one called to me.
I’d already seen the movie a few times before – it happens to be one of Mr. Bastion’s favorites – and while I’m not the biggest fan myself, I figured the antics associated with Belfort’s crazy lifestyle of excess would give this enough color to at least make it palatable. While that was true enough for me to read the entire thing, my personal enjoyment of the narrative began to tank somewhere in the first third, when it became clear that Belfort is a complete narcissistic, unrepentant asshole, and one of the most vile human beings on this earth.
“My name is Jordan, and I’m an alcoholic, a Quaalude addict, and a cocaine addict. I’m also addicted to Xanax and Valium and Morphine and Klonopin and GHB and Marijuana and Percocet and mescaline and just about everything else, including high-priced hookers, medium-priced hookers and an occasional streetwalker, but only when I feel like punishing myself… I’ve been sober for 5 whole days now, and I’m walking around with a constant erection. I miss my wife terribly, and if you really want to resent me I’ll show you a picture of her. Either way, I resent every last one of you or being total ******* and trying to take your life’s frustrations out on me.”
^^ an actual quote from this book. ^^
He claims in the opening that this autobiographical glimpse into his years on Wall Street exists for his children, so that they might better understand his behavior in the years that led to the destruction of their family. I hoped that what followed might include Belfort actually taking some responsibility for the terrible things he did to his family, his clients, and the economy. Unfortunately, what actually happens is 500 pages of praise for himself, and contempt for the people who were stupid enough to fall for his lies. The narrative is complete devoid of any true sense of remorse or reflection for the terrible things he did. Even worse, the book became a vehicle for him to land one final jab on all of the people he perceived as wronging him over the course of his career.
Not to mention, he’s also a racist, sexist, asshole with the ego to match. Belfort has this weird penchant for giving every person he encounters in his life a nickname that he then refers to them as for the rest of the book in narrative voice. Some of his least offensive included “The Blockhead and “Master Forger,” while his more offensive included the “Luscious Duchess,” (referring to his now ex-wife) and the “Depraved Chinaman,” (referring to a rival on Wall Street.)
If there’s a chance to insult someone else, while propping himself up on that incredibly high pedestal that exists only inside his mind, you can bet he’s going to take it. Mentions of his erection are peppered throughout the narrative, along with an awkward sequence where Belfort, ever the charlatan, asks us his captive audience to buy that a drug and alcohol rehab group celebrated his attempts to masturbate in public with raucous applause instead of rancor. Such is his narcissism.
It’s clear that he’s an unreliable narrator, as his view of events is colored with a heavy bias that I don’t the he’s even cognizant of. ,B>His culpability in securities fraud and money laundering is often played down in the narrative, suggesting that his guilt was actually other people’s fault – and he was only following the modus operandi of other big bankers at the time. He also tries to justify his lawbreaking by painting himself as a sort of Robin Hood character, as though it’s okay that he was fleecing the rich instead of the poor.
if you’re looking for a comprehensive take on his crimes, trial and conviction, look elsewhere as you won’t find it here. There’s too many pages lost to self indulgence, and Belfort completely forgets to cover when, how and why his life came crashing down around him, instead trying to hook the reader at the end to tune in later for a sequel in which he’ll finish the story this one had already promised.
Yeah. That’ll happen.
While I was entertained enough to finish the book, watching Belfort sink to increasingly new lows becomes a bit too masochistic for me to want to continue the party into another book. Besides that, the prose is a bit too frenetic, oddly paced and poor in parts for my tastes. If I had to read the phrase “loamy loins,” “Luscious Duchess” or “Lifestyles of the Rich and Dysfunctional” one more time I couldn’t be held liable for any of my actions. My heart goes out to that editor that had to pare down the 1200 page manuscript. I think they probably did the best they could with what they were given.
Just watch the movie. Leonardo Dicaprio is great in it, and you might not have to scrub out your brain quite as hard as you would after spending 5 hours with Jordan Belfort’s voice in your head.
🌟🌟✯✩✩ = 2.5/5 “I can’t believe I made it through this punishment,” stars
Have you read this book?? Have you seen the movie? Have you read any books (fiction or nonfiction) with a total jerk for a narrator like this one?