Discussion:
[Goanet] BOOK REVIEW: Tony D'Souza reviews 'Living on the Market' by Ben Antao
Goanet A&E
2008-10-28 04:05:18 UTC
Permalink
Living on the Market

Ben Antao

Doug Thomas of Toronto is a 41-year-old supply teacher who tries to support
his wife and two children by playing the stock market. Although his wife
doesn't approve of his activity, Doug has succeeded in making money and
saved the family's bacon in the previous two summers. Now, it's March break
in 1987 and he wonders if he can pull it off again.

http://www.goanet.org/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1095



Antao's Anatomy of Our Economic Times

Reviewed by Tony D'Souza


Ben Antao has written another page turner, a prescient and timely novel of
desire and money in the 80's that serves as a perfect prism for the economic
difficulties of our times. Doug Thomas is a 'supply' teacher in Toronto's
school system, better known in the States as a substitute teacher. As
everyone knows, the teaching profession, while immensely valuable to
society, is among the least remunerated white collar jobs in existence. And
substitute teaching is the least remunerated and thankless niche of that
already thankless profession. No one is more aware of this than Doug, Antao's
all-too-human protagonist.

We meet Doug in Antao's novel, Living on the Market, in his middle years,
long after the idealism of changing the world through teaching has left him,
in the very moment when he takes his bearings in his life and looks at his
wife and two children as though from a distance, asking himself that
timeless question, "How did I get here?"

Though he enjoys the freedom that supply teaching's irregular schedule
allows him, Doug has bigger dreams for himself and his family than his
meager supply teaching salary can provide. So he does what any A-type
personality unhappy with his station in life would do-and what many of us
have tried to do as well-he attempts to change his station in life by trying
to get rich quick in the stock market. Unfortunately, he does this with his
family's hard earned nest egg.

Antao's measured and considered prose is best expressed in his portraits of
Doug's inner-most thinking. Take this passage, when Doug is on the precipice
of 'risking it all':

"Doug stood at the window in his small bedroom and envisioned his
future-living on supply teaching and stock market investments. Now between
the concept and its execution lay an interim fraught with a myriad set of
emotions ranging from elation to trepidation. He took another day to
ruminate over this idea, bobbing and pitching on the waves of intense
emotion that urged him on until he could no longer postpone the inevitable
decision. Spring was in the air and it had rained the day before. Looking
down at the small strip of his backyard, he saw the lilac bush in flower and
the tiny raindrops dripping from the petals of red tulips. Renewal of nature
must lead to one's own renewal, he thought, and called the Merrill Lynch
Royal Securities."

Clearly Antao never abandons the eye for beauty that he has developed over
the course of his accomplished oeuvre. What could have been a dull story of
dollars and statistics in the course of an everyman's downfall becomes
instead a lush and nuanced case study of the desire for wealth that infects
all of us. But what sets Living on the Market apart and above is Antao's
ability to weave the beautiful moment with the nuts and bolts of reality:
not only is he a novelist to whom great and crystalline clarity comes with
the ease of the rain in spring, but he knows the decimal points and ratios
of his subject matter as well. Antao, lest we forget, is himself a
successful financial planner who knows this material as though he himself
has lived its ups and downs.

And what ups and downs Antao takes us through in the guise of Doug Thomas!
Doug becomes so lost in playing the market through the course of the novel
that he constantly calculates how much credit he has access to on both his,
and his wife Gladys's, credit cards. Gladys herself is one of Antao's richer
characters: though she is reluctant to support Doug in his market plays
because of losses her father had suffered during her own upbringing, she is
not beyond going on shopping sprees when Doug does well.

But Doug does not always do well. In fact what makes this novel so readable
is Antao's crafting of Doug into a character that we at once identify and
sympathize with, while understanding that he is also an out-of control train
about to spin off its tracks. Antao accomplishes this in two ways. The first
is through Doug's relationship with a fellow teacher, Clem Perry, who also
has an interest in the market, but is older and more wary of it than Doug
is. Some of the quietest passages in the book are when Doug reveals his
market plans to Clem, and Clem carefully reflects on the enormity of the
chances Doug is taking. The second involves Doug's relationship with his
stock broker, Bill Mackenzie. Bill is Doug's greatest cheerleader when Doug
is doing well; however, when the market crashes and Doug is threatened with
total ruin, Bill doesn't even answer his phone.

It's through Bill-and the reader must wonder here if Antao intended the pun
of the stock broker's name-that the true futility of Doug's market endeavors
comes most clear:

"In the securities business, Bill learned something about human nature,
although he did not make pots of money. Investors would normally clench
their teeth and endure the distress of seeing their investments slide in the
market; but they would not exercise the discipline needed to wait and watch
for their investments to grow fivefold. No, that kind of patience was tough
on the physique and the psyche. One only had to look at those who entered
the market in 1982 and stayed around for five years; they faced an
excruciating reckoning after the October crash. Of course, there would
always be some players who would continue to hang in for perhaps another
five years; their hope will, ultimately, be proven right by the charts or by
the advice of self-appointed mutual fund gurus. In the meantime, the
fortunes of brokers would sway and undulate with waves of players billowing
at the top, before crashing at the investment shores. Bill shook his head
with a cringe of disgust."

What could be more cynical? But this is the world that Doug plunges himself
into, and this world delivers him at times to the very depth of its Smithian
well. The reader won't soon forget how Gladys forces Doug out from the
family home when his investments in options are wiped out. Nor will the
poignant scenes of Doug returning to the family fold with presents when his
gambles pay off be overlooked. Doug loves his children, Cheryl and Danny, as
they do him, and on the surface of things it seems that the risks he takes,
he takes simply for them. But Antao seems to be searching for something more
in this book, striving to reach an understanding of the basic human
condition.

In an ambiguous and unexpected ending to a novel in which we follow the
success and failure of Doug's investments as though they are our own, what
is revealed is a man with a need that transcends the marketplace of the 80's,
a need that indeed transcends the marketplace of our own times, and offers
us the portrait of an addict. Doug is so invested in proving his own worth
to himself that time and again he risks everything simply to find out if he
could be right. As Doug says to his wife to calm her fears late in the
novel, "I've a feeling the market will go south again, and if it does, I'll
make a killing."

"What if it doesn't?"

"That's the risk I've to take."

Doubtless, many readers who pick up this tense and wonderful novel will
remember those very moments when they've told themselves exactly the same
thing.


Sarasota, FL, USA
September 2008

Tony D'Souza, 33, a Chicago-born novelist of Konkan origin. He is the author
of two novels, 'Whiteman' (2006) and the recently published 'The Konkans'.



Goanet A&E
http://www.goanet.org
Goanet A&E
2008-10-28 04:05:18 UTC
Permalink
Living on the Market

Ben Antao

Doug Thomas of Toronto is a 41-year-old supply teacher who tries to support
his wife and two children by playing the stock market. Although his wife
doesn't approve of his activity, Doug has succeeded in making money and
saved the family's bacon in the previous two summers. Now, it's March break
in 1987 and he wonders if he can pull it off again.

http://www.goanet.org/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1095



Antao's Anatomy of Our Economic Times

Reviewed by Tony D'Souza


Ben Antao has written another page turner, a prescient and timely novel of
desire and money in the 80's that serves as a perfect prism for the economic
difficulties of our times. Doug Thomas is a 'supply' teacher in Toronto's
school system, better known in the States as a substitute teacher. As
everyone knows, the teaching profession, while immensely valuable to
society, is among the least remunerated white collar jobs in existence. And
substitute teaching is the least remunerated and thankless niche of that
already thankless profession. No one is more aware of this than Doug, Antao's
all-too-human protagonist.

We meet Doug in Antao's novel, Living on the Market, in his middle years,
long after the idealism of changing the world through teaching has left him,
in the very moment when he takes his bearings in his life and looks at his
wife and two children as though from a distance, asking himself that
timeless question, "How did I get here?"

Though he enjoys the freedom that supply teaching's irregular schedule
allows him, Doug has bigger dreams for himself and his family than his
meager supply teaching salary can provide. So he does what any A-type
personality unhappy with his station in life would do-and what many of us
have tried to do as well-he attempts to change his station in life by trying
to get rich quick in the stock market. Unfortunately, he does this with his
family's hard earned nest egg.

Antao's measured and considered prose is best expressed in his portraits of
Doug's inner-most thinking. Take this passage, when Doug is on the precipice
of 'risking it all':

"Doug stood at the window in his small bedroom and envisioned his
future-living on supply teaching and stock market investments. Now between
the concept and its execution lay an interim fraught with a myriad set of
emotions ranging from elation to trepidation. He took another day to
ruminate over this idea, bobbing and pitching on the waves of intense
emotion that urged him on until he could no longer postpone the inevitable
decision. Spring was in the air and it had rained the day before. Looking
down at the small strip of his backyard, he saw the lilac bush in flower and
the tiny raindrops dripping from the petals of red tulips. Renewal of nature
must lead to one's own renewal, he thought, and called the Merrill Lynch
Royal Securities."

Clearly Antao never abandons the eye for beauty that he has developed over
the course of his accomplished oeuvre. What could have been a dull story of
dollars and statistics in the course of an everyman's downfall becomes
instead a lush and nuanced case study of the desire for wealth that infects
all of us. But what sets Living on the Market apart and above is Antao's
ability to weave the beautiful moment with the nuts and bolts of reality:
not only is he a novelist to whom great and crystalline clarity comes with
the ease of the rain in spring, but he knows the decimal points and ratios
of his subject matter as well. Antao, lest we forget, is himself a
successful financial planner who knows this material as though he himself
has lived its ups and downs.

And what ups and downs Antao takes us through in the guise of Doug Thomas!
Doug becomes so lost in playing the market through the course of the novel
that he constantly calculates how much credit he has access to on both his,
and his wife Gladys's, credit cards. Gladys herself is one of Antao's richer
characters: though she is reluctant to support Doug in his market plays
because of losses her father had suffered during her own upbringing, she is
not beyond going on shopping sprees when Doug does well.

But Doug does not always do well. In fact what makes this novel so readable
is Antao's crafting of Doug into a character that we at once identify and
sympathize with, while understanding that he is also an out-of control train
about to spin off its tracks. Antao accomplishes this in two ways. The first
is through Doug's relationship with a fellow teacher, Clem Perry, who also
has an interest in the market, but is older and more wary of it than Doug
is. Some of the quietest passages in the book are when Doug reveals his
market plans to Clem, and Clem carefully reflects on the enormity of the
chances Doug is taking. The second involves Doug's relationship with his
stock broker, Bill Mackenzie. Bill is Doug's greatest cheerleader when Doug
is doing well; however, when the market crashes and Doug is threatened with
total ruin, Bill doesn't even answer his phone.

It's through Bill-and the reader must wonder here if Antao intended the pun
of the stock broker's name-that the true futility of Doug's market endeavors
comes most clear:

"In the securities business, Bill learned something about human nature,
although he did not make pots of money. Investors would normally clench
their teeth and endure the distress of seeing their investments slide in the
market; but they would not exercise the discipline needed to wait and watch
for their investments to grow fivefold. No, that kind of patience was tough
on the physique and the psyche. One only had to look at those who entered
the market in 1982 and stayed around for five years; they faced an
excruciating reckoning after the October crash. Of course, there would
always be some players who would continue to hang in for perhaps another
five years; their hope will, ultimately, be proven right by the charts or by
the advice of self-appointed mutual fund gurus. In the meantime, the
fortunes of brokers would sway and undulate with waves of players billowing
at the top, before crashing at the investment shores. Bill shook his head
with a cringe of disgust."

What could be more cynical? But this is the world that Doug plunges himself
into, and this world delivers him at times to the very depth of its Smithian
well. The reader won't soon forget how Gladys forces Doug out from the
family home when his investments in options are wiped out. Nor will the
poignant scenes of Doug returning to the family fold with presents when his
gambles pay off be overlooked. Doug loves his children, Cheryl and Danny, as
they do him, and on the surface of things it seems that the risks he takes,
he takes simply for them. But Antao seems to be searching for something more
in this book, striving to reach an understanding of the basic human
condition.

In an ambiguous and unexpected ending to a novel in which we follow the
success and failure of Doug's investments as though they are our own, what
is revealed is a man with a need that transcends the marketplace of the 80's,
a need that indeed transcends the marketplace of our own times, and offers
us the portrait of an addict. Doug is so invested in proving his own worth
to himself that time and again he risks everything simply to find out if he
could be right. As Doug says to his wife to calm her fears late in the
novel, "I've a feeling the market will go south again, and if it does, I'll
make a killing."

"What if it doesn't?"

"That's the risk I've to take."

Doubtless, many readers who pick up this tense and wonderful novel will
remember those very moments when they've told themselves exactly the same
thing.


Sarasota, FL, USA
September 2008

Tony D'Souza, 33, a Chicago-born novelist of Konkan origin. He is the author
of two novels, 'Whiteman' (2006) and the recently published 'The Konkans'.



Goanet A&E
http://www.goanet.org
Goanet A&E
2008-10-28 04:05:18 UTC
Permalink
Living on the Market

Ben Antao

Doug Thomas of Toronto is a 41-year-old supply teacher who tries to support
his wife and two children by playing the stock market. Although his wife
doesn't approve of his activity, Doug has succeeded in making money and
saved the family's bacon in the previous two summers. Now, it's March break
in 1987 and he wonders if he can pull it off again.

http://www.goanet.org/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1095



Antao's Anatomy of Our Economic Times

Reviewed by Tony D'Souza


Ben Antao has written another page turner, a prescient and timely novel of
desire and money in the 80's that serves as a perfect prism for the economic
difficulties of our times. Doug Thomas is a 'supply' teacher in Toronto's
school system, better known in the States as a substitute teacher. As
everyone knows, the teaching profession, while immensely valuable to
society, is among the least remunerated white collar jobs in existence. And
substitute teaching is the least remunerated and thankless niche of that
already thankless profession. No one is more aware of this than Doug, Antao's
all-too-human protagonist.

We meet Doug in Antao's novel, Living on the Market, in his middle years,
long after the idealism of changing the world through teaching has left him,
in the very moment when he takes his bearings in his life and looks at his
wife and two children as though from a distance, asking himself that
timeless question, "How did I get here?"

Though he enjoys the freedom that supply teaching's irregular schedule
allows him, Doug has bigger dreams for himself and his family than his
meager supply teaching salary can provide. So he does what any A-type
personality unhappy with his station in life would do-and what many of us
have tried to do as well-he attempts to change his station in life by trying
to get rich quick in the stock market. Unfortunately, he does this with his
family's hard earned nest egg.

Antao's measured and considered prose is best expressed in his portraits of
Doug's inner-most thinking. Take this passage, when Doug is on the precipice
of 'risking it all':

"Doug stood at the window in his small bedroom and envisioned his
future-living on supply teaching and stock market investments. Now between
the concept and its execution lay an interim fraught with a myriad set of
emotions ranging from elation to trepidation. He took another day to
ruminate over this idea, bobbing and pitching on the waves of intense
emotion that urged him on until he could no longer postpone the inevitable
decision. Spring was in the air and it had rained the day before. Looking
down at the small strip of his backyard, he saw the lilac bush in flower and
the tiny raindrops dripping from the petals of red tulips. Renewal of nature
must lead to one's own renewal, he thought, and called the Merrill Lynch
Royal Securities."

Clearly Antao never abandons the eye for beauty that he has developed over
the course of his accomplished oeuvre. What could have been a dull story of
dollars and statistics in the course of an everyman's downfall becomes
instead a lush and nuanced case study of the desire for wealth that infects
all of us. But what sets Living on the Market apart and above is Antao's
ability to weave the beautiful moment with the nuts and bolts of reality:
not only is he a novelist to whom great and crystalline clarity comes with
the ease of the rain in spring, but he knows the decimal points and ratios
of his subject matter as well. Antao, lest we forget, is himself a
successful financial planner who knows this material as though he himself
has lived its ups and downs.

And what ups and downs Antao takes us through in the guise of Doug Thomas!
Doug becomes so lost in playing the market through the course of the novel
that he constantly calculates how much credit he has access to on both his,
and his wife Gladys's, credit cards. Gladys herself is one of Antao's richer
characters: though she is reluctant to support Doug in his market plays
because of losses her father had suffered during her own upbringing, she is
not beyond going on shopping sprees when Doug does well.

But Doug does not always do well. In fact what makes this novel so readable
is Antao's crafting of Doug into a character that we at once identify and
sympathize with, while understanding that he is also an out-of control train
about to spin off its tracks. Antao accomplishes this in two ways. The first
is through Doug's relationship with a fellow teacher, Clem Perry, who also
has an interest in the market, but is older and more wary of it than Doug
is. Some of the quietest passages in the book are when Doug reveals his
market plans to Clem, and Clem carefully reflects on the enormity of the
chances Doug is taking. The second involves Doug's relationship with his
stock broker, Bill Mackenzie. Bill is Doug's greatest cheerleader when Doug
is doing well; however, when the market crashes and Doug is threatened with
total ruin, Bill doesn't even answer his phone.

It's through Bill-and the reader must wonder here if Antao intended the pun
of the stock broker's name-that the true futility of Doug's market endeavors
comes most clear:

"In the securities business, Bill learned something about human nature,
although he did not make pots of money. Investors would normally clench
their teeth and endure the distress of seeing their investments slide in the
market; but they would not exercise the discipline needed to wait and watch
for their investments to grow fivefold. No, that kind of patience was tough
on the physique and the psyche. One only had to look at those who entered
the market in 1982 and stayed around for five years; they faced an
excruciating reckoning after the October crash. Of course, there would
always be some players who would continue to hang in for perhaps another
five years; their hope will, ultimately, be proven right by the charts or by
the advice of self-appointed mutual fund gurus. In the meantime, the
fortunes of brokers would sway and undulate with waves of players billowing
at the top, before crashing at the investment shores. Bill shook his head
with a cringe of disgust."

What could be more cynical? But this is the world that Doug plunges himself
into, and this world delivers him at times to the very depth of its Smithian
well. The reader won't soon forget how Gladys forces Doug out from the
family home when his investments in options are wiped out. Nor will the
poignant scenes of Doug returning to the family fold with presents when his
gambles pay off be overlooked. Doug loves his children, Cheryl and Danny, as
they do him, and on the surface of things it seems that the risks he takes,
he takes simply for them. But Antao seems to be searching for something more
in this book, striving to reach an understanding of the basic human
condition.

In an ambiguous and unexpected ending to a novel in which we follow the
success and failure of Doug's investments as though they are our own, what
is revealed is a man with a need that transcends the marketplace of the 80's,
a need that indeed transcends the marketplace of our own times, and offers
us the portrait of an addict. Doug is so invested in proving his own worth
to himself that time and again he risks everything simply to find out if he
could be right. As Doug says to his wife to calm her fears late in the
novel, "I've a feeling the market will go south again, and if it does, I'll
make a killing."

"What if it doesn't?"

"That's the risk I've to take."

Doubtless, many readers who pick up this tense and wonderful novel will
remember those very moments when they've told themselves exactly the same
thing.


Sarasota, FL, USA
September 2008

Tony D'Souza, 33, a Chicago-born novelist of Konkan origin. He is the author
of two novels, 'Whiteman' (2006) and the recently published 'The Konkans'.



Goanet A&E
http://www.goanet.org
Goanet A&E
2008-10-28 04:05:18 UTC
Permalink
Living on the Market

Ben Antao

Doug Thomas of Toronto is a 41-year-old supply teacher who tries to support
his wife and two children by playing the stock market. Although his wife
doesn't approve of his activity, Doug has succeeded in making money and
saved the family's bacon in the previous two summers. Now, it's March break
in 1987 and he wonders if he can pull it off again.

http://www.goanet.org/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1095



Antao's Anatomy of Our Economic Times

Reviewed by Tony D'Souza


Ben Antao has written another page turner, a prescient and timely novel of
desire and money in the 80's that serves as a perfect prism for the economic
difficulties of our times. Doug Thomas is a 'supply' teacher in Toronto's
school system, better known in the States as a substitute teacher. As
everyone knows, the teaching profession, while immensely valuable to
society, is among the least remunerated white collar jobs in existence. And
substitute teaching is the least remunerated and thankless niche of that
already thankless profession. No one is more aware of this than Doug, Antao's
all-too-human protagonist.

We meet Doug in Antao's novel, Living on the Market, in his middle years,
long after the idealism of changing the world through teaching has left him,
in the very moment when he takes his bearings in his life and looks at his
wife and two children as though from a distance, asking himself that
timeless question, "How did I get here?"

Though he enjoys the freedom that supply teaching's irregular schedule
allows him, Doug has bigger dreams for himself and his family than his
meager supply teaching salary can provide. So he does what any A-type
personality unhappy with his station in life would do-and what many of us
have tried to do as well-he attempts to change his station in life by trying
to get rich quick in the stock market. Unfortunately, he does this with his
family's hard earned nest egg.

Antao's measured and considered prose is best expressed in his portraits of
Doug's inner-most thinking. Take this passage, when Doug is on the precipice
of 'risking it all':

"Doug stood at the window in his small bedroom and envisioned his
future-living on supply teaching and stock market investments. Now between
the concept and its execution lay an interim fraught with a myriad set of
emotions ranging from elation to trepidation. He took another day to
ruminate over this idea, bobbing and pitching on the waves of intense
emotion that urged him on until he could no longer postpone the inevitable
decision. Spring was in the air and it had rained the day before. Looking
down at the small strip of his backyard, he saw the lilac bush in flower and
the tiny raindrops dripping from the petals of red tulips. Renewal of nature
must lead to one's own renewal