Family Ties, North End Guys Make for Funny Jewish Tale

Winnipeg Free Press, August 25, 2012 | Go to article overview

Family Ties, North End Guys Make for Funny Jewish Tale


MRS. Kaufman's goal in life is to have her battling sons, Dave and Mooney, reunited before she dies. And she's had a premonition about that.

If this guilt-tripping Jewish mother sounds familiar, so will many of the other characters in Michael Tregebov's irreverent second novel set in Jewish Winnipeg.

Tregebov was born here and graduated from the University of Manitoba. Since 1982, he has lived in Spain.

In The Shiva, Dave, the venal older brother, is a wealthy, if not terribly scrupulous, businessman, while Mooney, just released from a psychiatric ward, lives on welfare.

Dave is still jealous of the ease with which Mooney made friends in school, and his academic talent, and resents the fact that family life revolved around his brother.

For his part, Mooney envied Dave's business success, and dropped out of a PhD program to go into business for himself after Dave made his first million. But for Mooney, all business ventures were failures.

Just to get their mother off his back, Dave gives Mooney $50,000,

Against his brother's advice, Mooney promptly goes to see his buddies in the casino. Under the guidance of Dennis, a gifted rez Indian stock picker, they put together an investment syndicate.

The syndicate follows Dennis and his rallying cry, "Short the bastards," down the financial rabbit hole into the psychotropic world of short selling, where more is less and less is more.

The subprime mortgage crisis is about to hit in the U.S., and Dennis intends to clean up by riding the banks to the bottom of the market.

The members of the syndicate have a tough time wrapping their minds around the strategy of short selling, where they make their profit when the price of their stock goes down. This is against all the common sense of their considerable business experience. But it works.

Dennis, the only non-Jew in the plot, and a residential school survivor, uses his windfall to set up the Canadian Holocaust Museum Foundation, dedicated to the 100 million aboriginals he says were killed by Europeans. …

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