Mezrich runs the factory conveyor belt that turns raw reality into eventual smooth cinematic representation. He works fast. It doesn’t feel like these knowledge gaps ever haunt him as he goes along. The events recounted in his latest book, “The Antisocial Network” – GameStop’s shortcut – happened at the end of January of this year; a week later he had sold the rights to a book proposal to MGM. Of his prodigious production, Mezrich said he had hit “a number of doubles” but “two home runs”: “Bringing Down the House”, also made into a movie, and “The Accidental Billionaires”, the Facebook origin story which became “The Social Network.” Mezrich says that in writing the latter, he was handing each chapter, hot in the oven, to screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. (Sorkin said he didn’t see anything from the book until the script was almost done.)
Like those previous books, “The Antisocial Network” is an admiring portrait of the quick and unexpected enrichment of some nerds. It chronicles the short-lived panic from all angles. Hobbyist traders, many of whom have used Robinhood online brokerage, have flocked to the Reddit “WallStreetBets” bulletin board to raise the stock value of a dusty video game retailer, vowing to hold their GME with “diamond hands.” “, whatever happens . On the other hand, traditional Wall Street funds that had made huge bets against the ailing company rushed to buy now expensive shares to cut their losses, pushing the price up even higher. Robinhood once restricted the ability of its users to buy more GME shares, ending the tulip season. Outrage ensued, as did accusations of collusion between the pro-little guy brokerage and the money-losing lawsuits. There have been hearings in Congress. In Mezrich’s neat tale, it was a war between the company’s designated winners and “those retail losers on their couches with their Covid checks”, who “were throwing angry memes.”
The book attributes that non-committal sentiment to some Wall Streeters somewhere out there. Mezrich’s house style is light on formal citation: he employs omniscient third-person narratives, turning chapter by chapter through a stable of characters. These include the clear Goliath figure in GME history – Gabe Plotkin, the head of Melvin Capital, a hedge fund that lost billions in the squeeze – and the clear David, Keith Gill, the man who successfully evangelized like-minded Reddit users to buy the stock, and whose holdings exceeded $ 50 million at one point. Plotkin and Gill are just about the only two characters in this book who verifiably walk the earth. The other major voices – an elderly Duke who loves cartoons and grew up on a boat, an Obama and then Trump voting nurse in a mental hospital invented by the author, a pregnant woman whose marriage and l Lifestyle improvements have been threatened by the pandemic – appear as anonymized or composite characters, replacements for the WallStreetBets scum, motivated in turn by revenge, fun, despair, boredom. All of these characters can be ventriloquist whenever Mezrich needs to explain a concept in finance; they experience convenient revelations whenever the plot has to advance.
As such, Mezrich writes as if he has complete knowledge of all of his characters’ thoughts, stories, and conversations, including those that actually exist. Could it be that the historically private Plotkin, after perhaps the deepest humiliation of his professional life, telephoned the author who once wrote that Mark Zuckerberg had eaten koala meat on a yacht and that he started telling the story of his life, up to a specific car ride once to a Red Sox game with his father? It’s hard to say what we’re supposed to do with the facts we “learn” about him or any other character in the saga, if we can take them at face value or if we prefer to soak up the general vibe. One chapter is written from Elon Musk’s perspective and could be mistaken for a love letter to Elon Musk. In it, the billionaire uses a flamethrower to hunt down a dishonest AI drill and sips a brilliant smoothie made from Mars gourds. While it might have been intended as a wacky interlude, it camouflages itself a bit too well with the rest of the naked stuff in this book.