There are 21,500,000 stockholders in the United States. There are 38,373 stockbrokers. There is only one novel called The Pheasant-Lined Vest of Charlie Freeman. Come to think of it, there is only one stockbroker by the name of John D. Spooner. He wrote The Pheasant-Lined Vest of Charlie Freeman.
Quite a coincidence, especially if you happen to be one of those 21,500,000 stockholders or one of those 38,373 stockbrokers. (Or if your name happens to be Charlie Freeman or Leslie Hunger or David Naroff or Mr. Visvis or if you are one of the partners in the wall Street firm of Garner, Logan and Company, Members of the New York and American Stock Exchanges, with Offices in All Principal Cities.) It makes you think.
Mostly, however, The Pheasant-Lined Vest of Charlie Freeman makes you laugh. It makes you laugh because there are so many stockbrokers in the world and so many shareholders phoning their stockbrokers every day – and because so many of these stockbrokers are just what Charlie Freeman says they are.
To be Charlie Freeman is to be young, ambitious, cynical, as well as lazy, romantic, and idealistic. It means taking the Lexington Avenue subway every day and hating every minute of it. It means getting drunk with boring friends, and taking an ugly girl back to her family’s West Side apartment and listening to her father snore in the next room, when he should have been wide awake.
To be Charlie Freeman is to be the only one on your block who went to Harvard and didn’t go to graduate school; who isn’t married; who scored the highest marks ever on the NASD brokerage exam and still couldn’t sell his uncle, the cookie importer, a $5,000 mutual fund plan. In a word, to be Charlie Freeman is to be human. More or less.
A bold, outspoken, and sometimes outrageous novel, The Pheasant-Lined Vest of Charlie Freeman may be the worst thing to happen to Wall Street since Black Monday, 1929. But it is the best thing that could happen to the 21,500,000 American stockholders since Tom Thumb sat on J.P. Morgan’s lap.