Sunday, 15 November 2015

Lost in ledger land

I second commending Brian's fortitude in ploughing through Golden Phoenix so quickly.  I have to get over my disappointment that it turned out not to be a novelization of a lost Shaw Brothers movie before I can comment at length (do I really want to do that?), but some quick takes:

1. Ledgers, stock deals, the endless search for funds, stock issues, the interminable shell games of international finance.  There are ways to make this interesting, gripping even.  Very little of that shows through - I personally couldn't make head or tail about some of the deals.  Maybe that's my failing, but sometimes I couldn't figure out how issuing new shares and taking on more debt can make you richer and richer.

2. Who is Peter Munk?  After a promising beginning with his family on the run from the Nazis, his mother trapped in Auschwitz, the eventual escape to Canada we had the makings of a real biography that balanced his achievements with his family story.  That falls apart pretty quickly as Clairtone is born and the business side takes over and smothers everything else.  Rohmer actually delves into the anguish Munk felt abandoning his mother to an austere life of poverty after being released from the Concentration Camp while he escaped to Canada, but that side of his life gets neatly ignored in favour of stock issue intrigue.  100 pages later there is an offhand reference to her living in Toronto with her new husband - how did that happen?

3.  I'm on page 250 and I still don't know what happened to his father or the family that escaped the Nazis.

4.  Brian pointed this out and I want to know:  what did the man who gave the world Clairtone and had an impact on the way people listened to music at home think about music?  Not once do we know if he cared about it all.  I presume he did - but this isn't where you'll find out.  I mean, while out among his coterie of rich and powerful friends, did he ever play them things on his home stereo?

5.  From home stereos to property development to hotel chains to oil and gas exploration to gold is some kind of journey.  I can honestly say I don't know how one led to the next thing for Munk.  Other than the fact he is "focused", I know that he DID  go from one to another over the span of his life, but there is nothing in this book that tells me how.  Maybe I expect too much.

I need to push through the last quarter of this book now - maybe all will be revealed in the closing pages.

1 comment:

  1. This is the opposite of a spoiler: Nothing is revealed. The thesis statement is: Peter Munk has led quite a life. The conclusion is: Yes, it has been quite a life all right.