The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick
The Fall of Princes surprised me a few times as I read it, which is always a pleasant thing. I went in looking for wild stories about the brash, excessive, exotic life of the super-rich Wall St. elite from back in the 80s. Much like the movies Boiler Room and Wolf of Wall St.

The Fall of Princes did have a few such stories that painted the narrator's experiences as (mostly) fun and carefree. Living for the moment, indulging in anything and everything possible, that kind of stuff. I particularly enjoyed one chapter about an appropriately outlandish bachelor party in Las Vegas. This tale was told with exquisite detail and sublime sensory descriptions, making me wish I had been there.

But these dizzying memories from a time full of mountains of money weren't the bones of the book. What the narrator is really trying to communicate are the deep, humiliating regrets he feels about the immoral, borderline illegal things he did to achieve such immense levels of wealth. And how he's overwhelmingly ashamed of the erratic, selfish behavior he displayed while he was on top of the world. This underlying theme was one of the surprises. The narrator goes very deep into his own mind and relates his truest feelings about being the best and then dropping to lower than the lowest. It's rather sobering for the reader to be a little envious when reading about an extravagant summer in the Hamptons and then feel pity for the same man now busted and working as a cashier at a bookstore.

Another surprising aspect of the book is how in the end, it all comes back to love and to the importance of being loved. Long after his devastating fall from wealth, the narrator develops a very real and sincere connection with a transvestite prostitute of all people and she/he teaches him perhaps the most important lesson he's ever learned. Far more important than anything he found out on Wall Street. After this, the narrator has a random run-in with his ex-wife and he seems to somewhat positively impact her life. Perhaps finally bringing some peace and closure to them both.

So yes, the book is dark and brooding for the most part since we really have to follow the narrator as he falls, in order to understand what it's like to rise from rock bottom. Honestly, at parts I grew a little weary of reading about the bad times and wanted to hear more wild stories. However the unexpected end is uplifting and enlightening, leaving the reader satisfied and thoughtfully pondering new things. Throughout this journey, The Fall of Princes remains a very well written, enjoyable read.

But be prepared for LOTS of drugs, booze and erratic behavior. No stones are left unturned as the narrator reveals all about his sexual escapades with women and men. These parts are not grossly graphic, yet you know what’s going on. And they aren’t added in just to titillate, it all fits within the context and tone of the book and everything is important to the overall story. However if you are easily offended, look elsewhere.

I recommend this one for adults only due to subject matter and mature content. If you or someone you know really liked Boiler Room and/or Wolf of Wall St., or perhaps you’re fascinated by getting super-wealthy super-quickly and living the "good life", read The Fall of Princes to learn about the deep, dangerous pits that can lurk below these cliffs of excessive, uncontrolled wealth.

(Disclaimer: I received this book as an ARC from the publisher. However this did not affect my fully honest review.)