1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and Interesting, Recommended
This book is unique and I loved his style of writing, very laid back, witty and amusing. There is a fair amount of fiscal goings on and the way the markets operate, but it is interesting and informative. I felt like a parrot on his shoulder, because he takes the reader through letting us know his thoughts perceptions, and I did love that aspect. This is possibly not...
Published 3 months ago by emeralda
124 of 135 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cityboy Belatedly Finds His Conscience. Yawn.
As a commuter in London I was one of thousands who, on Mondays, caught up with the exploits of anonymous columnist "Cityboy" in the free hand-out "The London Paper". Purporting to lift the lid on the sordid existence of the average city banker, Cityboy's column continued for about two years until his unfortunate motrocycle accident, which led his premature retirement. In...
Published on 2 Jan. 2009 by L.B.
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124 of 135 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cityboy Belatedly Finds His Conscience. Yawn.,
As a commuter in London I was one of thousands who, on Mondays, caught up with the exploits of anonymous columnist "Cityboy" in the free hand-out "The London Paper". Purporting to lift the lid on the sordid existence of the average city banker, Cityboy's column continued for about two years until his unfortunate motrocycle accident, which led his premature retirement. In June 2008 Cityboy "came out" to the world as Geraint Anderson, an MP's son, and announced his intention to break into the world of novel-writing.
On the whole, "Cityboy"'s columns weren't bad and his work tended to be amusing, in a blokey and obnoxious kind of way. It was more or less what we expected from a financial analyst: "My life is utterly amoral but since I earn shiploads of money (my last bonus was five times - no, make that twenty-five times - your annual salary), I REALLY DON'T CARE." Of course the column appealed to the worst side of human nature - that was the whole point of the exercise - but it was often quite funny in small doses.
Now, however, Mr Anderson has revealed himself to the world as a person with - gasp! - a conscience. He feels VERY BAD about his previous incarnation as a banker, and so his novel (a thinly-disguised autobiography which also draws heavily on his columns) is intended as a kind of morality tale, warning us that we, too, might well have behaved in a similar manner had we too been faced with the kind of atmsophere and temptations brought to bear upon a newcomer to this gaudy world.
Problem Number One: what was amusing in small doses is irritating in a sustained extract. Anderson's principal method of humour is the unlikely comparison (example: "it was about as likely as Ann Widdecombe winning Rear Of The Year") and boy, does he milk these contrived and lengthy comparisons long past the point of unfunniness. Two or three on virtually every single page?! By the end of Chapter Three I was about as amused as Queen Victoria at a wet T-shirt contest.
Problem Number Two: Anderson's claim of being "a good boy now" isn't all that convincing. It's pretty clear that he'd love to carry on his openly-rude devil-may-care "Cityboy" persona, but both his concern for his reputation and events in the international financial sector have necessitated a display of public contrition. Anderson's narrative thus asks us to buy into the inconsiderate blokiness whilst simultaneously asking us to believe that the narrator doesn't REALLY believe in all that any more. It just doesn't work.
Case in point: our narrator "Steve Jones" tells us that, at one point, he and his gambling-minded friends were so desperate to have something to bet on that they even took a flutter on "the bra-size of some poor salad-dodger standing at the bar." Ah, how perfectly Cityboy! How staggeringly rude! And yet, notice the word that doesn't belong there: the word "poor". Doubtless we're supposed to believe that the narrator now is sorry for having caused distress to the woman in question... Yet, if he were that sorry, why use the term "salad-dodger" to describe her in the first place? Here, as elsewhere, you get the sense of Cityboy hastily covering his rudery with a tiny fig-leaf of consideration, and all it does is make the reader feel thoroughly uneasy. Are we supposed to be laughing heartlessly at this or not?
Ultimately, I'm giving it a couple of stars for exposing the macho "boy's culture" of the City. If it does its part to bring the culture of obscene bonuses to an end, good for it. But as a piece of humour I wasn't impressed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining romp,
This thinly-veiled autobiographical tale is certainly an entertaining romp through a city career. It is a funny and all too believable account although it doesn't really add much to what many will already know or suspect - that cityboys are boorish & sexist, and are totally focused on the size of their annual bonuses. The book is not intended to be a deep analysis of how the city works although there are insights, albeit nothing revolutionary. The experiences he describes gel with what I heard from friends who worked in investment banking at about the same time. It isn't well-written but moves along at a lively pace. The repetitive use of similes is seriously overdone, to the point where they become grating & lose whatever impact they might have had and towards the end of the book I noticed a number of spelling mistakes creeping in.
Although I found the first three-quarters of the book quite interesting, for me it tailed off badly towards the end, particularly the epilogue, when we are subjected to the author's musings on how we should all stop worshipping money and concentrate on the really important things in life, and how city boys should get a conscience for the benefit of humanity at large. I don't disagree with the sentiment but its exposition here is really trite. I also found it faintly amusing that a so-called successful city analyst would write: "In truth, the financial services market changed more in those ten crazy days in September 2008 than it did in the previous seventy years and banks now clearly face several lean years as well as tighter regulation and demands for greater transparency and lower levels of complexity." Two years on we still have had little in the way of enhanced regulation and 2009 wasn't exactly a bad year for City bonuses. Financial excess hammered the stock market but the cityboys made a killing when stock prices re-bounded.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not very good,
I am struggling to get this review posted...I must have a bad attitude! I will keep trying because I am sure it is not my computer that is playing up. Here's a simplified version.
Listen: frankly, Cityboy makes for a very unpleasant read. The tone is one of high-handed, moral superiority; and yet the writer was fully a part of this world that he now dismisses.
I have no direct experience of working in the financial sector, but I have some knowledge of it through work in the legal field. I do know that the higher end of finance is intellectually very challenging. You don't get any of that from this book, and it is weaker for it. I get the distinct feeling that the writer really hasn't penetrated the financial world very deeply. He admits that he got his job through family connections - that's stated explicitly in the book - and I can't help but feel that this determined the rest of his short career.
If you really want to read a good book on this go for Liar's Poker instead.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and Interesting, Recommended,
This review is from: Cityboy: Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile (Kindle Edition)
This book is unique and I loved his style of writing, very laid back, witty and amusing. There is a fair amount of fiscal goings on and the way the markets operate, but it is interesting and informative. I felt like a parrot on his shoulder, because he takes the reader through letting us know his thoughts perceptions, and I did love that aspect. This is possibly not for the more uptight person as there are some naughty, (slightly debauched!) events that come into it at times, but it was an integral part of the story and needed to be in there. My son (in his twenties) recommended this book to me, and I think most people would find it entertaining and interesting too .
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect, but highly entertaining,
Got given this for Christmas and after a couple of pages was well and truly hooked. Don't get me wrong, if you're already a city trader, analyst, salesman etc I doubt there's going to be anything in here to surprise you. But for the average joe it is something of an eye opener.
I've noticed a few negative comments on here about the fact that the narrator seems to be a bit of a hypocrite - condemming the behaviour that he clearly engaged in. These comments seem to miss the point somewhat - the book is effectively written as a confessional, with the author fully acknowledging that, like everyone else, he was seduced by greed, insecurity, competitiveness etc. Yes he made lots of money, but it's clear that this wasn't without serious consequences to relationships, mental and physical health, as well as to the best years of his life which he'll never get back. As a result, it serves more to put you off the life of the cityboy rather than to advertise it.
As someone who works in financial services, but not in investment banking I found it both interesting and entertaining. The style is straightforward and easy to read and it moves along at a decent pace. Occasionally the author's musings on morality and motivations venture into the preachy and abstract, but on the whole it is competentely written. The periodic uses of slang/city humour which a few have complained about, are revealing in themselves of the irreversible imprint the city made in the author's personality.
3.0 out of 5 stars Car Crash Captivating,
There's a whole clutch of books about the financial crisis and the fall from grace of drug-fuelled, misunderstood city boys and girls and this is probably the daddy of them of all, so if you are going to read any in this new genre, it might as well be this one.
Based on Anderson's The London Paper's column- although narrated by a fictional character clearly for legal reasons- it is essentially an autobiographical tale that takes you on a journey from his [we are assured] 'left-wing hippy days' of University, through the uber-capitalism experience of life as an analyst in Canary Wharf, and back again.
It has to be said there is something compelling about the story- a bit like rubber necking a motorway car crash- and it is written in an almost hypnotic, blokey style that despite your higher nagging sense of taste, keeps you reading until the end.
However that blokey style too often strays into the juvenile, which although no doubt an accurate voice of the type of people making millions in the City, relentlessly applied throughout a book is wearing, as are his quips, jokes and 'amusing' closing time sexist and racist observations which again, as he says, are clearly based on a reality he has stored up from years of a banal existence with the idiots who come out with this rubbish, but they come with such frequency [and often repetition] in the book, that they left this reader exasperated and close to just tossing the book away.
This is a shame because many people probably do just that and miss the overall message of the book, and the really good parts. When Anderson is describing 'sensibly' the machinations of The City and the origins of the recent crash, he is very, very good; lucid and rational in his explanations. Unfortunately though this is too often swamped by a rollercoaster of prose style that too often sinks into banality and a crudeness that isn't clever enough to be funny.
Having said that, if you key into the voice and shrug off the lows, it is more often than not an entertaining- and occasionally gripping- read and although it is difficult to feel sorry for the author at the end of it, I suspect that was not his aim.
There are more stylish and perhaps more emotionally affecting accounts of the self-destructive City lifestyle- Alex Preston's novel 'This Bleeding City' springs to mind- but for an account from the raw, blokeish coalface of The City, this may well be the only book you need to read in a growing library on the subject.
3.0 out of 5 stars A CERTAIN VIEW OF THE CITY,
I have never read the newspaper column that this author wrote so I did come to this book untainted by any previous knowledge. I found it an amusing read,but I did find it hard to divide fact from fiction. I found it hard to see how someone could perform any function after the amount of drugs and booze that Steve consummed on various occasions,and to make any sort of decision apart from wanting to die seem hard to fathom. I did weary of his similies that seem to appear on every page, although many of them were amusing it did get a bit repetitive and it lost it impact.His views on the financial market were not quite rocket science, and given his inside view of the city I do not think that you hsd to be the most perceptive person to realise what was going to happen to the financial markets worldwide.
It was a typical airport type of book, it was amusing at times, it moved at a reasonable pace, and covered a particular story, but I do not think it is a definitive book on how all city traders work, and how easy it is to make millions by appearing just to wine and dine prospective clients, surely we could all do that. I find it hard to believe that city institutions throw so much money at incompetence and arrogance, and that everyone seems so garrulous, though I may be wrong.Read it with an open mind, and donot attempt to apply immediately for a city stockbrokers job, I can't believe it is like this.
2.0 out of 5 stars Pathetic and tedious,
I bought the book as an ebook on my phone, dis-regarded the negative reviews to make my own mind up.
The book details the work life of the author who slags himself and everyone he worked with constantly, criticising every action and going on about how everyone working as a banker is bad - yet out of all of the people in the book the author seems to be the biggest problem.
Many pages are devoted about him doing endless drugs and drinking - and not putting in half of the detail about anyone else. It appears he was leading the way as far as being an idiot was concerned, yet he seemed quite happy to write about how he disliked this. He sometimes tries to make out he's actually not the person he is, when clearly that's nonsense.
It's amazing the amount of books I've read where the author thinks because they're either rich of famous, being a junkie is acceptable and that everyone's interested in that. The truth is they're so full of themselves that they think people care about their drug use history. Geraint Anderson was a full blown alcoholic/coke head apparently, but because he was earning lots of money, it's fine to write a book about it. I haven't read many books written by homeless, penniless crackheads who detail their drug history (and i've no interest to).
Although I have little in my bank account, I'm glad I haven't wasted my life like this pleb.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For the easily impressed.More like "Cheeky Boy",
There are so many giveaways in the text that I feel very foolish indeed for reading this book to the bitter end. The author claims to have been a Cambridge graduate and a financial analyst. I find that difficult to take in given the poor writing style and the obvious ploy that he was able to justify his achievements in the city by getting a talented colleague to do his job for him.
I suspect that the book was simply a marketing idea designed to appeal to an impressionable audience. If he has worked in the city it seems to me more likely that he was a lot further down the food chain than we are led to believe. The humour is witless and has more in common with the adolescent, puerile level of Jonathan Ross and his ilk than any of the more literate writers of social observation. As for his attempt at educating the masses to financial markets and the practices of the city, there are plenty of highly readable contemporary non fiction works on the bookshelves that offer genuine insight on the subject.
Sadly this book is past its sell-buy date. The aspirational culture of greed is now discredited and appeals only to the moronic few. I can think of one saving grace for this writer - he is street wise and therefore could be capable of writing a simple to read analysis of how greedy opportunists used creatively complex financial products to get rich quick and exploit the naivety of politicians, regulators, commentators, etc. The problem with this effort stems from Geraint Anderson's adaptation of a complex subject, with serious implications for millions of people, into a dumbed down fictional format
5.0 out of 5 stars If you have a sense of humour, and can tolerate a little naughty behaviour, I would strongly recommend this book,
unless you're a completely stuck up bore, you will enjoy this book. I'm sure a lot of the content is made up, but he makes no claims that the book is a 100% accurate representation of his City life.
I have now read this book twice and each time found it tremendously engaging, finding it hard to put down and very enjoyable. Yes, some of the content is contrevertial and, i'm sure, quite offensive at times, but i'm sure, not a million miles from the truth of some individuals within the square mile.
His honesty regarding money and some of the activities displayed 'out-of-office' by some individuals are compelling, even if not entirely ethical or condoneable.
in summary, I would say this book is very well written, keeps the reader interested and is one of the few books (fiction and non-fiction included) about financial services that is actually a bloody good read!
If you have a sense of humour, and can tolerate a little naughty behaviour, I would strongly recommend this book. Personally, I love it.
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Cityboy: Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile by Geraint Anderson