Trading Places | EW.com

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A Onetime Market Player Takes Stock of His Life in a Novel About Wall Street Weasels

I don’t care if you read it, just buy it.”

The bottom-line pitch comes from Scott Lasser, a former bond man who used to work the Wall Street trading floor. He left behind a life of broker dinners and sweaty million-dollar deals and retreated to Colorado with his wife and two kids. His new novel, All I Could Get (Knopf, $24), describes Barry Schwartz’s swift and greedy climb up the Street’s ladder. “Like Barry, I really did commute with two guys who drove an Infiniti and a BMW,” says Lasser of his book’s blatant autobiographical appeal. “Now one of the guys is mad at me because he said I gave all the best lines to the other guy.”

Lasser, 40, flew to New York on Sept. 10 for a photo shoot on top of the World Trade Center that week. In the hard days that followed, a jittery Knopf originally pulled the book’s jacket, which features a stretch of empty road with the lit-up towers looming in the background. “My feeling was let’s leave it because it really is part of the book’s landscape,” says Lasser. “And the crass side of me — I didn’t become a bond trader by total chance — thought commercially it would still work.”

When asked to compare the world of Wall Street to that of midtown publishing, Lasser pleads ignorance. “But my instincts tell me publishing must be worse,” he says. “You know, it’s the old line about academia: The fights are so nasty because the stakes are so small. The great thing about Wall Street is you know everybody is always out to f— you but at least you’re never shocked.”