On the face of it, my inclusion in this issue of The New Criterion is odd. I’m a novelist. So you’ll forgive me if my approach to my topic is narrative, and focused on my bread and butter: emotion. For I believe that money is an enormously emotional subject, one underexplored in serious fiction. Indeed, my upcoming novel is described in HarperCollins’s spring catalogue as about “illness, death, and money.”

It’s considered unseemly to discuss one’s personal finances in public. But I’m not very polite. Furthermore, while we hear a great deal about the unquestionably sympathetic travails of the poor, the anxieties of people who make money go largely unexpressed. If you earn anything, you’re not supposed to complain but, rather, to feel fortunate or even sheepish—especially in a recession. I think it’s time for the...


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