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 man’s search for self and home in a culture of illusion. Waitzkin’s 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
“I’ve 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.”