Cover Image: The Vegan

The Vegan

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Member Reviews

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. The story follows Herschel and his hedge fund, built on AI, as he inches closer to making billions. 
The story also does a great job of developing the characters and their relationships with each other. The dinner party scene, in particular, was very well done. It was wild to see how Herschel's prank played out and the consequences that followed.
All in all, this is a great sophomore work from Herschel Caine. If you're looking for a creative and engaging story, then this is definitely a good read. If you're a fan of Herschel's work, then you won't be disappointed.
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I don’t know what to make of this. I don’t have a lot to reflect on here — I was drawn to this book since I’m vegan and the premise sounded interesting. However, it was a bit of a slog and I nearly stopped reading several times. The style of writing (many run-on sentences) is not to my taste, and anything related to finance went straight over my head, so to be fair some of this is on me. I’m simply not sure what the author is trying to convey. What is the point? I really can’t say. I’m sure it’ll be a compelling read for some (the premise is original enough), but it wasn’t for me.

I received an ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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"The Vegan" by Andrew Lipstein starts with a slightly Woody Allen vibe of a Manhattan apartment party where Hershel Caine and his beautiful wife Franny invited another influential couple and a friend, Birdie, to, hopefully,  establish good social connections. Hershel is a thirty-eight-year-old hedge fund manager leading a happy, stable life, and the future looks bright and wealthy. But a thoughtless prank at the party, which may or may not impact sending Birdie to a hospital, where she falls into a coma, changed everything.

Now, Hershel feels guilty, and the only creatures he finds understand him are animals: a bird on the street, a neighbor's dog, and two lizards he acquired at a pet shop. He sees animals as living in their own world, feeling lonely but strangely close to him. Suddenly, he is repulsed by the sight of meat and becomes a vegan. Adding to his frustration is the situation at his company: an algorithm that was supposed to predict how stocks would perform is doing more than that – it's changing the way the stock market works, so it becomes ethically wrong for Hershel to promote it. Try to tell it to Milosz and Simo,  the firm's brilliant software developers, and to a greedy investor discussing his options!

The sudden conversion of Hershel is just fascinating to follow. This is not a midlife crisis or a naive Thoreauian dream of union with wilderness, initiated by guilt, but an idea born from trying to understand humans' connection with other beings and nature. "Language let us forget the sights and sounds of the world, the wheel let us transcend our bodies, artificial light let us control night and day, photography let us outsource and manipulate our memories, books and phones and the internet reduced distances to a point, denied Earth its immensity."

It might sound like such a heavy subject would make this novel difficult, but it's the opposite. This book is hard to put down, both philosophical and humorous, written in beautiful language, touching on subjects of financial investors, conformism, lifestyle status, art, accepting one's roots, fitting in, and sticking out. I haven't been entranced by the book like this in a long time! All elements – the protagonist, the background, and the excellent supporting characters create a novel that moved me into reflecting on our connection with nature and was very entertaining at the same time. I was both surprised (this was my first book by Andrew Lipstein, as I didn't read his "Last Resort" yet) and very impressed! I highly recommend it.
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I flew through Andrew Lipstein's sophomore offering, but I'm struggling to articulate my feelings towards it: the blurb describes the novel as "a brilliant tale of guilt, greed, and how far we’ll go to be good", and this feels like a concise but apt summation. A story of trying to atone for the moral wrongs one has committed... and one of veganism. I would be lying if I said I had read anything else like it!
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Thanks to Netgalley and FSG for the ebook. Outwardly, Herschel Caine seems to have it all: Beautiful wife, lovely new home, a hedge fund with a one of a kind algorithm that is starting to predict how certain stocks will perform, but the pressures of life a causing small cracks to turn into large crevices. A night of trying to impress the fancy neighbors turns into a deadly affair, any food with animal products makes him ill, the algorithm he’s so proud of may be deriving its results through nefarious means and a shadowy character seems to threaten exposure about Herschel’s public and private life. Only the neighbors dog seems to understand everything he’s going through. A very fast paced, smart and fun second novel.
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"The Vegan" by Andrew Lipstein follows Herschel Caine, a hedge fund manager whose AI-powered fund is on the verge of making him a billionaire. But after a prank at a dinner party leads to a tragic accident, Herschel becomes consumed by guilt and, in a perplexing decision, becomes a devout vegan. As his life spirals out of control Herschel's love of animals (and disdain for those who don't) becomes more public and more pronounced. As with Lipstein's debut book, "Last Resort," "The Vegan" is impossible to put down. Combining the paranoia of Patricia Highsmith with the satirical eye of 'Succession' Lipstein has crafted a one-of-a kind novel for our time.
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Lipstein does it again with THE VEGAN. Like LAST RESORT, we're entering a world in which one's relationship to class is forever tenuous, in which one can lose everything in the blink of an eye. Though perhaps less freewheeling and suspenseful than LAST RESORT, VEGAN is still twisty in how it tosses curveballs at its protagonist Herschel. For one, there's the fund he's founded, and which he slowly realizes isn't the benevolent machine he'd hoped. There's also the fact that a friend of his is put unexpectedly into the hospital, which may or may not have been his fault. This all comes to a head with his sudden repulsion to meat. There are many strands, sure, but in Lipstein's hands this remains an enjoyable and propulsive read. Will be recommending for sure.

Thanks to the publisher for the e-galley!
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