The Lighter Side
Potter at the trough
By Michael Silverstein
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jul 31, 2007, 00:25

As a professional writer, I'm naturally impressed by large book sale numbers. And nothing has ever been as impressive as first day sales of the new Harry Potter book, $72 million worldwide, $8 million in the United States alone.

As a professional writer I also know that the surest way to diddle a publisher for a big advance is to repackage someone else's commercially successful concept, doing so with just enough originality to avoid costly litigation. Hence, the decision to turn my talents to a series following the adventures of Irwin Potter, financial market wizard

Little Irwin's parents, a Bear Stearns analyst mama and Goldman Sachs investment banker dad, met a mysterious end at the hands of a seemingly all-powerful Federal Reserve chairman who turned to the dark side by casting deadening rate spells. The poor kid, cut off from an Upper East Side private school education and decent co-op living arrangements, ends up being raised in a family of chump-changers, people who work at jobs that pay wages related to the actual worth of what they do.

Irwin knows he's different, however. The Hungarian pengo birthmark on his forehead is always there to remind him. But it isn't until he's rescued and brought to a place where youthful market mavens learn all manner of magical ways to churn out vast sums of money with deals that boost the paper value of assets without in any way increasing their intrinsic worth that the lad understands his true calling.

Irwin's personal path to grotesque levels of personal wealth is not without a bevy of potential pitfalls. Others in this gilt-edged academy, Fatback, have pretensions and senses of entitlement almost as great as his own. Still, he's got the right sort of pals to help carry him through. There's the angel-faced girl who turns lethal in a flash and can dismember with a look. And the malleable guy friend who was born to take the fall if certain deals attract the wrong sort of attention. Not that this is likely.

At Fatback there will be battles a'plenty in my series. Against spell deflating regulators. Against occasional sickening market dips. And in the series' epic culminating struggle, against a force that embodies the unthinkable, the notion that the institution Fatback and all it stands for is built upon a foundation that is ultimately unsustainable.

Of course, I won't say how this final battle pans out. But trust me. Young readers will learn the all-important lesson that no matter who else goes down in this climactic battle, Fatback alums who avoid indictment will spend happily ever after.

As for me? If this deal works out as hoped, I'll be able to divest myself from any future exposure to the machinations of people like the fictional characters I've created.

� 2007 Michael Silverstein

Michael Silverstein is a former senior editor with Bloomberg Financial News in Princeton.

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