08 November 2003

There's an interesting article in the Times about the long-awaited film version of Prozac Nation, the controversial Harvard freshman-year memoir by Elizabeth Wurtzel, famously described as "the closest thing Harvard ever produced to Britney Spears." (I don't know if that's true. Any other nominations?) The movie was finished in 2000, but Miramax has repeatedly shelved it. Currently, it's scheduled for a release sometime next spring. Word is that it's pretty lousy, but that it also contains Christina Ricci's first topless scene.

More interesting, at least to me, is the tidbit that the producer of Prozac Nation is a woman named Galt Niederhoffer, who read the book while a student at Harvard and optioned it for Millennium films. Her last name rings a bell for anyone in the hedge fund business, and a quick Google search reveals that she is, in fact, the daughter of Victor Niederhoffer, who was one of the world's most famous speculators and hedge fund managers before losing a lot of money in 1997. I'm not sure what this means, but that's the funny thing about the Harvard web: it connects people as different as Liz Wurtzel and Victor Niederhoffer in unexpected ways.

I've read Mr. Niederhoffer's own memoir, The Education of a Speculator; it's extremely literate, anecdotal, and shamelessly narcissistic. This article gives a good sense of his style: it moves from a discussion of Greek tragedy to barbs at Kenneth Lay to a statistical analysis of whether companies perform worse in the market after appearing on the cover of Forbes. (The answer: yes.) And it concludes with some verses from daughter Galt, who has a "forthcoming" coming-of-age novel of her own, American Thighs...written in iambic pentameter. It's good to be rich, isn't it?

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