The Most Interesting Story on Earth

John Lanchester, author of, among other books, The Debt to Pleasure (he was on to debt early), says in his newest book:

I’ve been following the economic crisis for more than two years now. I began working on the subject as part of the background to a novel, and soon realized that I had stumbled across the most intersting story I’ve ever found…. It is an absolutely amazing story, full of human interest and drama, one whose byways of mathematics, economics, and psychology are both central to the story of the last decades and mysteriously unknown to the general public.

Lanchester has writerly talents that allow him to tell this amazing story in an illuminating way, with at least one conclusion that runs counter to those (e.g., Jamie Dimon)  who see the financial crisis as merely a brief example of capitalism having fallen off the wagon of profit.  Lanchester asserts that the lessen of the fall of 2008 ought to be a realization that more individualism and the singular pursuit of economic happiness via shopping and endless purchasing will not be the answer.  The answer lies not in individual getting and spending and indulgence but in collective rationality.  The short version is:  we are all in this together.

For reasons that I am unable to discern, the American title of Lanchester’s book is I.O.U., while the U.K. version is called Whoops. While many people in the U.S. will know Lanchester from his literary works, I.O.U. has been sent on to the business section of your  bookstore.  This categorizing for shelving purposes might not help sales, so be sure to direct any Lanchester fans you know to the business aisle of the local bookstore.

photo of book coverphoto of book cover


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