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Originally published Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 8:03 PM

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Banking tell-all born from Goldman gossip

The parody Twitter account @GSElevator, a stream of darkly funny, frequently callous anonymous snippets purportedly overheard in elevators at Goldman Sachs, has offered comments on a dizzying range of topics to its more than 600,000 followers.


New York Times News Service

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The parody Twitter account @GSElevator, a stream of darkly funny, frequently callous anonymous snippets purportedly overheard in elevators at Goldman Sachs, has offered comments on a dizzying range of topics to its more than 600,000 followers.

There are matters of the heart (“Why would I marry? It’s betting some chick half my net worth that I will love her forever”) and air travel (“The exit row. First class for poor people”). There are tweets about corporate warfare (“Only Neanderthals resort to violence. I prefer crushing one’s spirit, hope, or ego”).

And, of course, there are musings about Goldman (“Getting fired from Goldman is like being traded by the Yankees. You’ll probably still make millions, but it’s not the same”).

Now the publishing industry will test whether the pseudonymous author’s story will succeed as a Wall Street exposé. Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, announced last month that it had acquired “Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance and Excess in the World of Investment Banking.”

The book, whose author writes under the name J.T. Stone but has revealed his identity to his publisher, editor and literary agent, will be released in October, in the prime fall season for bookselling.

Stone, as he is calling himself, hopes to keep his real identity hidden.

“We have no plans to release his identity at this time,” said Brian Belfiglio, a spokesman for Touchstone.

The publisher said the book would go beyond the Twitter account that for years has parodied the boorish, over-the-top behavior that has become associated with big Wall Street banks.

It has especially poked fun at Goldman, a firm that was portrayed in Rolling Stone magazine as a bloodsucking “vampire squid” and, for a time, became a symbol of Wall Street greed. The profile on the @GSElevator Twitter account is illustrated with a photo of a glowering Lloyd Blankfein, the chairman and chief executive of Goldman.

David Wells, a spokesman for Goldman, declined to comment on the Twitter account and the book deal.

A description from Touchstone said “Straight to Hell” by Stone was “a humorous, insightful, and profoundly uncensored account of Wall Street, pulling back the curtain on a world that is both envied and loathed, yet never dull.”

The author “will offer stories from his career in banking that capture the true character and nature of Wall Street culture today — a world far more abhorrent and way more entertaining than people can imagine,” the publisher said.

The author declined to speak on the telephone but answered questions via email. He said that he had thought about writing a book long before he began tweeting.

“These are stories that I have been collecting over the course of my experiences in banking — events that have been so outrageous and funny, that I thought that one day they might be worth sharing,” he wrote. “Unlike other books that may be viewed similarly, this is not a whistle-blower scenario or an indictment or assault on a specific firm.”

He added, “My aim is to showcase and illuminate the true culture of Wall Street as I have experienced it, and write a book that is not only very funny and entertaining, but also, insightful and substantive.”

The author declined to comment on whether he is still working at Goldman.

The Financial Times said he has worked in fixed income in New York, Hong Kong and London.

Simon & Schuster hopes that “Straight to Hell” emulates the success of “Liar’s Poker,” by Michael Lewis, a 1980s-era Wall Street memoir widely considered the classic of the genre that has sold more than 2 million copies.

Investment banking tell-alls, however, are not surefire hits. Greg Smith, who in 2012 publicly resigned from Goldman with an Op-Ed page article in The New York Times, received a $1.5 million advance to write a book about his time at the bank. “Why I Left Goldman Sachs,” which was released by Grand Central Publishing later the same year, has sold about 19,000 copies in hardcover, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 85 percent of print sales.

In an email, Stone displayed some of the same swagger that comes through in his @GSElevator Twitter feed. He was “very confident,” he wrote, “in my ability to deliver a best-seller.”



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