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'Wall Street' Novelized : WALL STREET by Ken Lipper (Berkeley: $3.50 , paper; 241 pp.)

January 03, 1988|Kathleen Silvassy | Silvassy writes for United Press International

UPI-With jobs ranging from one of Wall Street's top guns to deputy mayor of New York to newly published novelist, Ken Lipper knows pressure. He considers it a great way to learn.

His latest credential springs from his work as chief technical adviser on "Wall Street," Oliver Stone's new film of power, greed and misplaced ambition.

"Wall Street," the novel, was scheduled to hit the bookstores to coincide with the film's opening. For Lipper, it meant three months of working 12-hour days. He delivered the manuscript one day before the deadline.

The book, like the movie, deals with a prominent, unscrupulous investor who lures a young, ambitious stockbroker into an illegal stock-trading scheme. In print, Lipper was able to flesh out the characters, describe their backgrounds and delve into their motivations.

"The book starts out with the sentence, 'Being a crook was the most exciting time in Bud Fox's Wall Street career,' " Lipper said in an interview in Washington. "The reason that it's in there is to indicate that greed for money was only one element in his descent into criminality.

Lipper, who held top positions at Salomon Brothers and Lehman Brothers, said he also wanted the book to depict the cultural transition "from old Wall Street to new Wall Street" and the problems created by that change.

It may sound as if Lipper is biting the hand that once fed him a $1-million salary, but he is quick to defend his position.

"I went through the institutional system. I enjoyed it," he said. "Don't get me wrong, I enjoy making money. (The book is) an expression of someone who's been through the system, and I'm not afraid to point up where I think it could be better."

Lipper, who now runs his own investment banking firm, has considered each of his careers a worthwhile challenge and an opportunity for personal growth.

Serving as deputy mayor of New York from 1983-'85 was his "most difficult job" to date, but one of the most meaningful, he said.

"For me it was a test of all my accumulated skills," he said. "It was the real world, it made you feel what other people were experiencing.

"But it was hard," he said. "I learned something there, too. You must do things for yourself. You cannot do it for the applause. And you always have to find a way to regenerate yourself. Then you can be more effective."

For now, it's back to the investment business, but he's got another novel on the brain.

"I want to do a story about gentrification in all its layers--the insurance companies, the government, the real estate developers, the media," he said. "A look at it from the eyes of the people it affects. It gives me something to think about."

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