Synopses & Reviews
A powerful, exquisitely written tale about a charismatic yet morally ambiguous salesman
Jim can sell anything to anyone. Born into abject poverty, he uses street smarts, irresistible charms, and increasingly sophisticated schemes to pull himself up from door-to-door salesman to international mogul, the father of the pyramid scheme.
Jim becomes fabulously wealthy, owning estates and dining with royalty, but along the way he leaves an army of disillusioned customers broke and ruined in his wake. To escape his past, as well as government investigators, he leaves the country to become the leader of a lawless and predatory gold-mining operation in the Brazilian Amazon---an entirely lush, violent, dissolute life.
Worn down by age, and a lifetime of shady enterprise, his world suddenly changes when he meets Mara, a beautiful, young Israeli woman with dark ambitions of her own. In the process of their unlikely life together, Mara finds herself attracted to this ruined old man, as if his profligate history of glory and big money, and finally his weakness and proximity to death, creates an urgency and eroticism for her.
Narrated by an anonymous writer who is equally mesmerized and repulsed by Jim, Fred Waitzkin's The Dream Merchant is an unwavering look at the price of heedless ambition, the indissoluble bonds of male friendship, and the unsettling nature of love and sexuality.
“Very few writers can deliver a story with this much heart. It is a great novel.”
“Brutal, erotic, and poignant. A mans search for self and home in a culture of illusion. Waitzkins propulsive narrative makes for compelling reading from first page to last. A triumph.”
“Fred Waitzkin took me into a world of risk and violence and salvation that I was loath to relinquish.”
Searching for Bobby Fischer
“A gem of a book…[its] quest is beautifully resolved.”
---Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times
“A vivid, passionate, and disquieting book.”
---Martin Amis, The Times Literary Supplement
“Ive seldom been so captivated by a book.”
“Waitzkin captures better than anyone---including Kasparov himself in his own memoir
---the various sides of this elusive genius.”
---The New York Observer
The Last Marlin
“A remarkably ambitious and satisfying memoir.”
---The New York Times Book Review
“I am reminded once again…how terrifically gifted a writer Fred Waitzkin is. His new book is both deeply moving and joyous, both dark and celebratory.”
powerful, sexy, and exquisitely written heart-of-darkness tale of an unusually gifted, irrepressible and indefatigable salesman who must find redemption in his old age
The Dream Merchant explores the capacity of a good person to do bad things. Jim is a charismatic and caring, yet increasingly flawed salesman who becomes an addicted gambler, womanizer and criminal as he wins over countless people, through his charms and a series of financial scams. Just as quickly as his fortunes rise, he loses everything, leaving people ruined in his wake. Eventually he becomes a modern Lord Jim, operating a lawless and violent gold mining operation in the Brazilian Jungle, South of Manaus. As an old man, he meets Mara, a beautiful young Israeli woman with dark ambitions of her own. In the process of their unlikely life together the girl finds herself turned on by this old man, as if his profligate history of glory and big money, and finally his weakness and proximity to death in her embrace, create an urgency that is erotically charged. Narrated by a writer equally mesmerized and, at times, repulsed by this larger-than-life character, the novel recalls classics by Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Marquez and Roth.
About the Author
Fred Waitzkin is the author of Searching for Bobby Fischer, Mortal Games, The Last Marlin, and, presently, The Dream Merchant, his first novel. His articles and essays have appeared in numerous magazines, including Esquire, Forbes, New York magazine, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Outside magazine, and Sports Illustrated. Waitzkin lives in New York City with his wife. He spends as much time as possible on the bridge of his old boat trolling baits off distant islands with his family.