Dollars And Sensibility

Two of America's best novelists take on the world of financial shenanigans, and it pays off for one of them

Two cycles of irrational exuberance in the U.S. economy, and we still don't know what to make of it. First came the High Reagan years, with their masters of the universe, then the virtual economy, with all those make-believe billions. Were they just the latest outbursts of the usual hubris, the Yankee peddler spirit on a very big tear? Or were they a sea change, episodes that launched us into a new world?

Now two major U.S. novelists are taking on this question in two utterly different books. In Good Faith (Knopf; 417 pages), Jane Smiley has produced an irresistible...

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