Vachon, Dana 1979–
Vachon, Dana 1979–
Born 1979, in Greenwich, CT. Education: Duke University, B.A., 2002.
Home—New York, NY.
JPMorgan (private bank), New York, NY, analyst for three years; currently a freelance writer.
Mergers & Acquisitions (novel), Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Author of Web log DNasty. Contributor to periodicals, including Salon.com, Men's Vogue, New York Times, and the International Herald Tribune.
Movie rights to Mergers & Acquisitions have been sold.
Frequently compared to Jay McInerney's novel Bright Lights, Big City, Mergers & Acquisitions is Dana Vachon's debut work about young professionals living a rich but morally bereft life in New York City. Vachon's novel concerns twenty-somethings who get their investment-banking jobs mostly through family connections rather than talent; the author's admission that the story is largely based on real life is a big reason many readers find it fascinating. After graduating from Duke University, Vachon found work at JPMorgan as an analyst, a job he was not really qualified to do, just like his protagonist Tommy Quinn, who works in J.S. Spenser's mergers and acquisitions department. Vachon's roman à clef is blatantly aimed at satirizing the incompetence, outright greed, and ethically bankrupt environment of large financial corporations. He also spoofs the shallow lives of the young men and women who pursue money, sex, and drugs unashamedly. The epitome of this behavior is Tommy's friend, Roger Thorne, "a blue-blood would-be Master of the Universe so completely up front about his debauched lack of interest in anything beyond booze, babes, drugs and money that he is impossible to hate," according to Ben White in a Financial Times article; White called Roger the book's "finest creation." Vachon has said most of the other characters in his story are based on friends and relatives, with the exception of Tommy's love interest, Frances, a sexy but mentally disturbed art student. Recorder critic Kellie Schmitt commented that Frances is actually the least intriguing of the novel's characters, making her "wonder whether Vachon truly has a good imagination—or just happened upon some rich material."
Vachon was not at JPMorgan very long before it was purchased by Chase Manhattan, after which time he felt the corporate culture soon went into decline. Realizing that he was not really competent at his job and yearning for something more, he began writing about the financial world in his spare time. He would sneak off to a coffee shop, where he penned articles and began writing a Web log called DNasty, where he offered revealing, anonymous commentaries about his experiences. A well-known Internet Web logger, Elizabeth Spiers, took note and created a link from her Web log to Vachon's. Literary agent David Kuhn then contacted Vachon and suggested he write a book. Mergers & Acquisitions was the result, and Vachon earned a 650,000-dollar advance on the title.
Critics have variously labeled the book flawed, promising, and entertainingly humorous. While a Kirkus Reviews writer asserted that "the novel never succeeds in establishing a coherent fictional world, let alone delivering a roman a clef," White called it "wickedly funny and smartly written." Yet the critic admitted the work is not perfect: "Vachon's novel is flawed in serious ways. But it is also at times enormously entertaining and revelatory. And … it holds the promise of much greater things to come." Schmitt decided that "it'd be nice to have a little more substance" to the story, concluding that "it's a compelling read, if only in that guilty-pleasure kind of way." "Vachon has penned a convincing depiction of young turks on Wall Street and the thin, pretty, blonde women who bed them," reported a contributor to Curled Up with a Good Book, describing it as "annoyingly immature—consider the requisite fart and spew jokes—and yet as fascinating as watching a train wreck in slow motion."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Financial Times, March 31, 2007, Ben White, "Fiction—Greed Is God. An Impressive First Novel about the High Life and Low Motives of a Junior Investment Banker," p. 31.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2007, review of Mergers & Acquisitions, p. 97.
Library Journal, March 1, 2007, Sheila Riley, review of Mergers & Acquisitions, p. 79.
Marie Claire, April 2007, Colleen Oakley, "Author Q&A: Dana Vachon on His Novel, Mergers & Acquisitions," p. 122.
New York, April 2, 2007, Carl Swanson, "DNasty Boy: Dana Vachon, the Investment Banker Turned Blogger Turned Novelist, Is One Very Sincere Satirist," p. 74.
New York Times Book Review, April 22, 2007, D.T. Max, "Money Talks," p. 15.
New York Times, March 25, 2007, Melena Ryzik, "Made in Manhattan," p. 4.
Publishers Weekly, May 9, 2005, Sara Nelson, "Too Much of a Good Thing?," p. 5; January 8, 2007, review of Mergers & Acquisitions, p. 29.
Recorder, May 11, 2007, Kellie Schmitt, "M&A Misadventures: A Tale of Wall Street's Young, Rich and Oh-So-Bad Boys."
Variety, April 30, 2007, John Clarke Jr., "Lit Hipsters Vie for H'wood's Eye," p. 3.
Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (October 22, 2007), review of Mergers & Acquisitions.
Gawker,http://gawker.com/ (March 28, 2007), "Dana Vachon Backlash Begins in Gritty, Blue-Collar Paper."
Radar,http://www.radaronline.com/ (April 11, 2007), Neel Shah, "On the Scene: Dana Vachon Makes His Mama Proud."
Reading Matters,http://kimbofo.typepad.com/readingmatters/ (April 7, 2007), Rex Allen, review of Mergers & Acquisitions.