Herschel Caine is a master of the universe. His hedge fund, built on the miracle of machine learning, is inches away from systematically sapping profits from the market. His SoHo offices (shoes optional, therapy required) are ready for desperate investors to flood through the doors. But on May 12, his mind is elsewhere—at his Cobble Hill townhouse and the dinner party designed to impress his flawless neighbors. When the soiree falters, Herschel concocts a prank that goes horrifically awry, plunging him into a tailspin of guilt and regret. As Herschel's perfect world starts to slip away, he clings to the moral clarity he finds in the last place he'd expect: a sudden connection with his neighbor's dog.
Ingenious ... A less cloistered book [than Last Resort], with bigger, more universal themes. Lipstein trades the faintly antique unease of literary reputation for the all-too-current ones of money and technology. You root for its thinky, troubled hero, even while you enjoy watching him sweat ... Not since Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals has a Brooklyn writer made so plain a case for greater sensitivity to the natural world. And The Vegan, a pig in a blanket of irony, subversion and humor, is much easier to swallow.
It's a widely accepted truth that hedge-fund protagonists generally aren't interesting. They're too rich for their problems to resonate. Their actual job is often nebulous and complicated and therefore boring. They're almost impossible to make sympathetic. Or, alternatively, they're cartoon villains. But Andrew Lipstein's effort in The Vegan is fresh and inventive ... In Lipstein's sophomore effort he achieves the difficult feat of realistically animating a hedge fund manager who talks and moves as real hedge fund managers do, or might, but who is compelling and not overly alienating ... Lipstein achieves another feat with his descriptions of financial-world machinations — they're lucid and immediate, and the obscene wealth they throw off is refreshingly obscene — appealing, but lurid ... The writing is lilting, grandiose, dense, run-ons full of action and metaphor. It reads like if Martin Amis wrote Money about a more distinguished salesman or, at times, as an F. Scott Fitzgerald-esque commentary on the violence of class. In only a few overwrought moments did it spill past the point of good taste.
Along the way, Lipstein...lets loose some overwrought metaphors...But his setup also earns him the opportunity to riff on the progression of language alongside the progression of capital, a twined overgrowth. If satirizing a wannabe tech mogul feels like low-hanging fruit for some readers, Lipstein at least keeps the growing genre fresh.