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The Hedge Fund (2014) tracks in novelistic terms the upshots of several generations of cross-cultural intermarriage. The first is between a Middle-Western Jewish savant named Lawrence Sylvan Landau and a beautiful, horsy WASP esthete from Greater Philadelphia, Louisa – Weezee — Winant. A shrewd and hard-bellied economist, Sylvan rescues Weezee’s end of the family fortune and moves with his wife and children to St. Petersburg, Florida when Weezee develops a health problem that dictates a milder climate.
They raise two daughters and a son, Michael, a lawyer who functions as the narrator of this story. In time the elder of the daughters, a punchy female jock, marries a brutal but increasingly shrewd first-generation-Cuban ex-SEAL, Enrique – Ricky – Cruz. Ricky’s father, Ramon, is a wily survivor from the first generation of Cubans to flee Castro for Miami. A businessman with ominous connections – from the Bush family to the apparachniks on the Cuba mainland to the established Florida underworld –, Ramon inveigles Sylvan into transferring a substantial percentage of the real estate that constitutes the basis of the Landau fortune into a hedge fund which promises stupefying profits once Castro loosens his grip.
But then the stock market collapses. Sylvan is seized with sellers’ remorse, and much of the plot turns on the maneuvering by the Landaus to recover their properties from their new and ruthless relatives, who orchestrate a savage vendetta to keep from relinquishing this capital.
As all this is playing out, Michael, who manages the family’s residual real estate around St. Petersburg, becomes enchanted – perhaps literally – with an impoverished young Comanche woman, Linda, holed up in one of Sylvan’s slumlord apartments. Michael’s love for her becomes the spiritual center of the book. Linda’s brother Sonny, a tracker and a scout for the U.S. Cavalry, turns up to help recover the Landau holdings..
The action moves back and forth from the Tampa Bay area, in and around Greater Miami and the adjacent Everglades, and culminates in Havana. Key scenes take place in steamy St. Petersburg, where a starchy remnant of inherited wealth presides over a society churning with racial disparities.
In tone this novel resonates at first like a social comedy, then more and more it takes on the beat and pace of a thriller. Many readers are staggered by the Native American elements. Hersh has known Indians all his life, and was often invited over the years into their secret ceremonials. Their view of America – and what the White Man had done to it – processed into his soul early and suffuses this work.
SELECTED COMMENTS ON “THE HEDGE FUND” FROM THE AUTHOR DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN HAS SINGLED OUT “FOR HIS SPLENDID GIFTS AS MASTERFUL WRITER, BRILLIANT THINKER AND FINE HISTORIAN.”
— “It’s got the Hershian polish and panache and deep knowledge of the 20th century….” Thomas Powers, Pulitzer prizewinner, author of The Man Who Kept The Secrets and Heisinger’s War
— “I finally got The Hedge Fund read. Liked it a lot.” Liz Smith
— “…compelling. I very much admired the way you opened up your central tropes: Hedgefund and Family.” David Kranes, novelist, dramatist, Director Emeritus of the Sundance Playwrights Workshop
–“I enjoyed it very much….The dialogue is intelligent, ribald, cynical and relentlessly funny.” Hunter Hague, breakthrough young novelist
–“fine show…best of your novels….” Charles Gaines, author of Pumping Iron, Stay Hungry, A Home Place, etc.