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The Buy Side’ is a mostly predictable Wall Street tale

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Two stars

The Buy Side: A Wall Street Trader’s Tale of Spectacular Excess By Turney Duff, $26.

Former hedge funder trader Turney Duff received a $1.8 million Christmas bonus in 2003. He walked into his seven-figure job knowing nothing about trading; he only knew how to drink tequila (Patrón with three limes) and how to throw a good party. But apparently, before the market crashed, that was good enough for Wall Street.

Duff’s memoir, The Buy Side: A Wall Street Trader’s Tale of Spectacular Excess, recounts his rise to riches and fall to drug addiction. Along the way, the book teachers readers the difference between execution traders and proprietary traders, along with what it means to short a stock. It also leaves no cliché unturned. The coke, the booze, the clubs, the hot waitresses, the angry phone calls, the all-expense-paid vacations, the spousal deception, the spousal confessions—you don’t have to read this book to know its plot. But if you want to have all your Wall Street suspicions and biases confirmed, you’ll find Buy Side as entertaining as it is predictable.

Duff on drug use: “I roll a twenty-dollar bill and gather enough cocaine with my American Express card to form a hefty line.” Duff reviewing a Mexican restaurant: “The food is great and the margaritas even better.” No surprises, good or bad.

But Duff somehow comes off as likable. I think that’s because he’s so honest about his shortcomings and his embarrassing fantasies (“I don’t tell anybody about my dream: I see myself on the cover of GQ or Vanity Fair. I’m holding the strings to two puppets: one represents Wall Street, the other Hollywood.”) If he’s willing to share that childishness, I bet he’s honest about his conquests, too.

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