Geraint Anderson: Cityboy

Jan 03, 2016

My girlfriend lent me Cityboy by Geraint Anderson a while back when I was low on recreational books. Where she got it, I have idea; probably as a gift. I didn’t go into it with many expectations — all those blurbs on the cover again — and it was a smart attitude.

A young hippie is persuaded by his older brother to take an interview with an investment bank in the City and with a two-hour tutoring session he gets the job. He learns the business and what he’s supposed to be doing as he goes and from several mentors. Soon, he finds his niche in schmoozing clients — lunches, dinners, concerts, parties, binges, drugs. He progresses in his career making more and more money, learns all the tricks, weathers crises while being driven by a competition with another cocky analyst. Eventually, he loses his bet and gets into a traffic accident which makes him reconsider his life and turn it to something more meaningful and possibly charitable. Also, he writes this book.

I don’t know what to think about Cityboy. It reads like a fiction with strange structure peppered with some factual information wrapped in misogynistic language, but it is label as a memoir. Everything screams how daring and shocking it is but who actually thinks that cityboys are virtuous people who are paid according to their abilities?

The structure of the book is unusual. There are eight chapters, each dedicated to a person in the protagonist’s life. However, the author tries to keep somewhat linear narrative without any need to go back and forth. This results in a series of partially overlapping time intervals which sometimes reach back to previous chapters. Such structure makes it feel like there’s nothing else except for that one person for some period of time and nothing else interesting happened. Yes, it’s not a chronological depiction so it streamlines the events, but it didn’t really sit well with me.

A nice thing about the book are English curses and metaphors which I for some reason find more amusing than American ones. However, they couldn’t balance the vulgarity and misogyny of the narrator — it gave me a slimy feeling. All in all, I wouldn’t recommend Cityboy unless you really are into the topic or there’s no other book in your vicinity.