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ON THE SHELF

Confessions of a Wall Street Shoeshine Boy

By Doug Stumpf

HarperCollins, 290 pages, $24.95

Stumpf, a deputy editor at Vanity Fair, endeavors to offer his audience truth represented as illusion, instead of illusion misrepresented as truth. One of the two narrators of the book, Greg Waggoner, a writer for Glossy magazine, makes that clear up front. "This is the story of how I got the biggest story of my career. Regrettably, I can publish it only as a novel, with the events and characters disguised," Waggoner says. Waggoner confesses to having long harbored the desire to write a whistle-blower story in which the high and mighty fall. "Those stories are not easy to come by," writes Waggoner. "Usually the whistle-blower gets crushed or bought off by those in power, or his lawyers won't let him talk to reporters. Then along came Gil, with a story about his best friend, Eddy." Gil is a 20-something Brazilian immigrant who shines shoes at a large Wall Street firm. He is an astute observer who gives readers a running commentary about all the people who work at the company - how much money they make, their extravagant spending, their fractured family lives, their sexual dalliances. Gil doesn't set out to be a whistle-blower; he merely tells Waggoner, whom he met at a shoeshine parlor, about something a trader did that caused his friend Eddy, a janitor, to get fired. Waggoner smells a big insider-trading story. Waggoner's efforts to nail down the big story and secure his job at Glossy give the novel its plot, but Gil gives Shoeshine Boy its charm.

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