Paul E(mil) Erdman R. Z. Sheppard - Essay

R. Z. Sheppard

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Although [Paul Erdman] is not the James Joyce of high finance, he is not Jacqueline Susann either. His plots and characters tend to be simple, but he combines a zest for the intricate poetry of the big deal with the ability and cheerful willingness to explain it. His first novel, the bestselling The Billion Dollar Sure Thing, straightened out the mysterious alchemy of the international gold market….

The Silver Bears deals in a baser metal, but it is just as entertaining and instructive as the first novel. Although names and places have been somewhat altered, the plot is built on the manic-depressive 1968 fluctuations in the price of silver….

Although Erdman does not neglect characterization and the mechanics of storytelling, he is more intent on delivering cold truths. Mainly, that whatever speculators were hearing about the future of silver in 1969, it was largely piped misinformation from a handful of super-sophisticated con men. In his novel, the lords of both the underworld and overworld put aside hurt pride to concentrate on profit by colluding to rig the market. All those dentists, airline pilots and what Erdman gleefully calls "greedy widows" who invested in silver futures never stood a chance. The odds of beating the professionals were about the same as a man in a wheelchair getting a football through the Miami Dolphins' defense.

R. Z. Sheppard, "The Stung," in Time (copyright 1974 Time Inc.; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission from Time), Vol. 104, No. 5, July 29, 1974, p. 65.