Bloomberg the Company & Products

Bloomberg Anywhere Login

Bloomberg

Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.

Company

Financial Products

Enterprise Products

Media

Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000

Communications

Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

Beach Books Oiled By Money, Murder, Psychos, Greed

Crowd Sunbathing On Beach
Photographer: Massimo Vitali

July 20 (Bloomberg) -- A great beach book should have some combination of money, lust, murder and travel. How to tell which books fit the bill? There’s no Muse Book Club seal (yet), so for now, here’s my list.

‘Bonfire of the Vanities’

“Bonfire of the Vanities” by Tom Wolfe. Think back to a simpler time, when the idea that a mediocre man in his mid-30s could make $15 million a year on Wall Street was still fresh. Add in yet more greed, vanity, sociopathology and you’ve got the best book Wolfe’s ever written.

‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’

“The Talented Mr. Ripley” by Patricia Highsmith. If you want to read about beautiful people in beautiful places doing a mixture of horrible things to themselves and others, this is your book. Then watch the hypnotically beautiful 1960 movie with Alain Delon (released as “Purple Noon”), which is so much better than the plodding version with Matt Damon.

‘The Patrick Melrose Novels’

“The Patrick Melrose Novels” by Edward St. Aubyn. What happens when a smart kid of immense privilege is ravaged by a sadist father and a drug addled mother? Find out in this (very dark) series of comedic novels.

‘The Glimpses of the Moon’

“The Glimpses of the Moon” by Edith Wharton. For a less glamorous approach at high society, here’s a book that follows a couple with loads of connections but little money. A not so charming look at the sacrifice necessary to maintain a foothold in the beau monde of the day.

‘American Psycho’

“American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis. Yes, the protagonist is a psychopath. But his suits are gorgeous.

‘A Way of Life, Like Any Other’

“A Way of Life, Like Any Other” by Darcy O’Brien. The 1950s account of life as the child of Hollywood movie stars. A kid raised by narcissists with too much money: what could go wrong?

‘The Orient Express’

“The Orient Express” by Gregor von Rezzori. If you consider new money to be anything made after 1880 and the phrase “contemporary culture” to be an oxymoron, perhaps this book’s your best bet. It does a nice job of applying withering cynicism to the present day and the world that came before it in equal measure.

‘Tender is the Night’

“Tender is the Night” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Yes, extraordinary wealth can be a burden, but what about being the spouse of the person with that wealth? Fitzgerald’s last completed novel with a memorably sad ending.

‘The Two Mrs. Grenvilles’

“The Two Mrs. Grenvilles” by Dominick Dunne. A thinly fictionalized account of the shooting of Billy Woodward, Jr., heir to the Hanover National Bank fortune, by his wife Ann, who killed herself when she learned of Truman Capote’s upcoming, equally thinly fictionalized account of the murder in Esquire magazine.

“Well, that’s that,” Ann’s mother-in-law is reported to have said. “She shot my son, and Truman just murdered her, and so now I suppose we don’t have to worry about that anymore.”

‘A Rebours’

“A Rebours” by Joris-Karl Huysmans. It keeps things streamlined with a single character who shuts himself in a villa and spends the entire novel doing fantastical things with his money. A cult book for the global aesthete.

(James Tarmy writes for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News and for Loot, a blog on Bloomberg.com. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on theater and New York Weekend.

To contact the writer on the story: James Tarmy in New York: Jtarmy@gmail.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

Please upgrade your Browser

Your browser is out-of-date. Please download one of these excellent browsers:

Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.