Home—Washington, DC. Agent—(literature) Matt McGowan, Frances Goldin Literary Agency, 57 E. 11th St., Ste. 5B, New York, NY 10003; (film) Amy Schiffman, Gersh Agency, 41 Madison Ave., Fl. 33, New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer and economic consultant. Former investment banker on Wall Street.
Bank (novel), Back Bay Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to periodicals and websites, including the Huffington Post.
Author David Bledin is a former investment banker whose short tenure in the grueling world of high finance forms the background of his debut novel, Bank. Before becoming a novelist, Bledin gained fame among the financial community and the online world as the author of what became known as the "Bitter Investment Banker" e-mail. In his mid-twenties as a junior analyst, Bledin experienced all the indignities, stress, and overwork of being the low person in the bank's Darwinian hierarchy. The financial rewards were high, but the hours were long, the work tedious, and the work environment unpleasant. Finally, unable to deal with the stress any longer, he wrote the message and sent it out anonymously. "I wrote the e-mail about ten months in, after a particularly bleak week of almost-all-nighters," Bledin told an interviewer on the Banker's Ball Web site. At that point, Bledin said, he didn't care if his employers figured out who sent the e-mail, or if they fired him over it. "I stopped caring about four months in." They did eventually trace the message back to him, Bledin reported, but by then he was in another job in another city.
Using the "Bitter Investment Banker" e-mail as a springboard, Bledin wrote his first novel. Bank centers on the main narrator, who calls himself Mumbles, and the colorful set of coworkers, bosses, and assistants who work in a Mergers and Acquisitions section of a large bank. All of the other characters are also referred to by descriptive nicknames. The Prodigal Son is an incompetent executive who gained his position by being the offspring of a higher-up in the bank, and who likes having in-office romps with the appropriately named Unadulterated Sex. The Star has seemingly superhuman abilities to manipulate data and Excel spreadsheets, all the while retaining a Zenlike quality of calm. Postal Boy is nervous and twitchy, and the rest of the characters wonder when he'll snap and "go postal" on the whole department. The Defeated One has felt his soul crushed by the demands of a drug addiction and a high-maintenance girlfriend, both of which mean can't leave his odious position at the bank. The Sycophant, the Utterly Incompetent Assistant, the Philandering Managing Director, and many other corporate and office archetypes make appearances. Mumbles and his other analyst friends hope to survive a two-year stint before leaving to pursue an M.B.A., and then find a better (or at least less stressful) job in another bank in the cherished financial area of Private Equity. With routine 100-hour weeks on the job and little hope for a life outside their cramped cubicles, they cope through pranks, overpriced coffee, bitter complaining, and the hope for the ultimate end to their tenure in M&A. Unexpectedly, Mumbles finds a possible romantic connection with a coworker, The Woman with the Scarf, and he realizes that he will have to make life-changing decisions sooner rather than later.
"This isn't the first book to take on the modern office environment, but it's got great pacing, and the characters are on a definite path to somewhere," commented reviewer Tony Caldwell on Nights and Weekends.com. A CA Reviews Web site contributor observed: "Anyone who has ever worked in an office or cubicle farm will find characters and situations here that resonate." Some reviewers wondered if Bledin did not protest too much, given the very large salary and fringe benefits he enjoyed while working at the bank. Tara E. Buck, in the Rochester, New York, Daily Record, mused: "When you land your dream job out of college and start earning more than 100,000 dollars a year, is it alright to complain about the workload, or should you just accept the heavy burden as the way you chose to earn your keep?" Other critics believed that Bledin's account clearly demonstrates why even the fat paychecks are not worth the stress and abuse. Bledin is "good on the mind-numbing tedium of the daily grind of financial analysis, coupled with the brutal, unreasonable bullying of the bosses," remarked Matthew Lynn on Bloomberg.com. Many readers who have "worked in banks will wince: those of us who haven't will worry less about the million-dollar bonuses we're missing," Lynn continued. A Kirkus Reviews critic called the novel a "sweet and satiric romantic fable about an overworked, overstressed, overpaid investment banker who discovers that the life he leads is no life at all." A Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded that Bledin's "tale of cubicle rancor and awkward romances is well-paced, humorous and endearing."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Daily Record (Rochester, NY), July 10, 2007, Tara E. Buck, "Commentary: Book Review: Bank Latest in Quit-Job-Tell-All Genre."
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2007, review of Bank.
Publishers Weekly, November 14, 2005, Michelle Kung, "Boys Wanna Have Fun, Too," p. 8; January 29, 2007, review of Bank, p. 38.
Bankers Ball,http://www.bankersball.com/ (April 24, 2007), "Interview: No Longer Bitter Banker," interview with David Bledin.
Bank Web site,http://www.escapefromthecubes.com (November 27, 2007).
Bloomberg.com,http://www.bloomberg.com/ (May 29, 2007), Matthew Lynn, review of Bank.
CA Reviews Web log,http://ca-reviews.blogspot.com/ (May 8, 2007), review of Bank.
David Bledin Friendster Profile,http://profiles.friendster.com/ (November 27, 2007).
Deal Book Web log,http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/ (May 29, 2007), "From the Banking World, More Bitter Beach Reading," review of Bank.
E Financial Careers Web site,http://news.efinancialcareers-gulf.com/ (October 18, 2007), "Guest Comment: Why Banking Sucks," commentary by David Bledin.
Hachette Book Group Web site,http://www.hachettebookgroupusa.com/ (November 27, 2007), biography of David Bledin.
Hipster Book Club,http://www.hipsterbookclub.com/ (November 27, 2007), Marie Mundaca, review of Bank.
Nights and Weekends.com,http://www.nightsandweekends.com/ (November 27, 2007), Tony Caldwell, review of Bank.
Reader Views,http://www.readerviews.com/ (November 27, 2007), review of Bank.