The Exchange-rate Between Love and Money

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9780099513452: The Exchange-rate Between Love and Money

A dysfunctional love story set in Sarajevo 2003 amidst reconstruction programs, mercenaries, black marketers, private enterprise initiatives, the UN and the international justice business. It is a brilliantly original and funny new voice in fiction.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Thomas Leveritt is half-American, half-British. This is his first novel. He has won the Carroll Medal for Portraiture from the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. In addition, he has: programmed computers, aid-worked in Bosnia-Herzegovina, an Army Scholarship into the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, a Law Scholarship into Middle Temple, 28 cousins in Texas, and held the UK distribution rights for the very excellent beer Sarajevo Pivo.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The Girl in the Gingerbread Blizzard

Pretty well the first thing Bannerman did after moving to Sarajevo was fall in love with his best friend's girlfriend. No, worse: his only friend's only girlfriend. Bannerman had always been clumsy, but this was a pratfall many, many pots & pans more impressive.

His best friend was Frito, a big surly mother with a ton of money, Disinhibited Personality Disorder, and a knack for girls -- none of whom, perhaps as a result, had ever interested him long-term. But he'd been looking for the one that would. Thoroughly. He'd heard about this amazing thing love, had been trying to score some for years now -- he'd painted a target on every girl he met and shot himself out of a cannon at them, but none ever withstood the impact.

Until that autumn of 2002. Frito was down in Sarajevo on business when he finally met someone. He kept it quiet for a few months, behaving a bit odd admittedly, commuting back and forth across Europe to see her, until one bleak afternoon back in London, in the dregs of that year, he finally faced up to the responsibilities that true love demanded. He dug Bannerman out of the back room at The Rottweiler and told him they both needed to move to Sarajevo, on account of the substantial killings to be made in that city.

"Zat so?"

"Substantial, I'm telling you, Bannerman," which, with his onoff New Zealand accent, he pronounces to rhyme with "cinnamon." Frito explained it all. The dotcom boom hadn't died, it had gone to live in Reconstruction. Guilt money was raining out of the Dayton Peace Plan in lumps the size of a fist. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was going nuts with grants and loans, desperate attempts to get the Bosnian economy breathing. Likewise with the World Bank and the IMF. Western governments would match your investment like for like. Then there were the UN refugee and resettlement programs, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Office of the High Representative (OHR), the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), plus the entire captive market of NATO's Stabilisation Force (SFOR), with all of the subcontracting opportunities they represented, and a whole slew of lesser acronyms rattling along in their wake like Just Married cans, and all of those needing to subcontract...cans on cans...and meanwhile fifty percent unemployment in Bosnia, highly educated workforce, and no import tariffs with the EU. "Mate, we can't make money out there? we deserve to go into banking."

"Maybe we do deserve that," said Bannerman, nuzzling tenderly at his pint.

But Frito, with his shaky understanding of personal space, just sat there, inches off Bannerman's left cheek, nodding eagerly. Bannerman made a face to register how impressed he was by this barrage of datapoints. "Does sound amazing," Bannerman agreed.

"Yep." Frito stood up, but frowned at Bannerman's inaction. "Come on then."

"Come on what?" -- "Come on, let's go." -- "To Sarajevo?" -- "Right." -- "What, now?" -- "Better now than later." -- "I don't think that's how the saying goes, Frito." -- "But we need to go now." -- "What are they, after us?"

"No, they're before us, Bannerman!" suddenly too loud, drinkers turning to look, "there are substantial killings out there Bannerman, and they're being swallowed up by those before us!"

"Killings."

"Beyond your wildest dreams!" his hands in starbursts.

What was Bannerman going to do? He didn't have wild dreams. He didn't even dream, much, mostly he just lay there. On recent form Bannerman couldn't consult his way out of a paper bag, whereas Frito had made several killings in various sectors over the years. Bannerman had made zero in the whole thirty sorry years, and he'd kind of planned on catching half of Frito's next one.

Plus Frito was in love. He hadn't said as much, but Bannerman had wheedled out of him that there was some girl he had met, Swiss no less, based out in Sarajevo, named Clare Leischman. Seemed she did something or other for the UN in the High Representative's office, and, from what Bannerman could gather, something for Frito in her own office. Hard to say what. Frito was cagey about such things. So Frito wanted to pursue something with a girl finally, for the first time ever. Why would Bannerman not do this for his best friend in the world?

Bannerman looked around The Rottweiler, with its outsize plastic snowflakes stuck to windowpanes, the fruit machines, the institutional burgundy carpet that looked like someone had opened a pig on it. With a sigh he swallowed his London Pride, wiped the scum from his face, and stood up. "Frito pal, let's do it."

There have been a number of such jinks. Originally both computer programmers, Frito and Bannerman realized early and hard that there was no money in doing it yourself, and for the last few years they've pursued various wild schemes, mostly in Frito's case successful, and mostly in Bannerman's case not. Ethical business consultancy had abruptly given way to online pet food, then to pharmaceutical B2B schemes, then online realtors, computer peripherals, back to pharmaceuticals...New York to San Mateo, back to New York, London... it's not easy scraping a living outside the mainstream of corporate protection; cooption and moral release have built-in gyms, health plans, pensions. At the other end of their twenties it seemed such an obvious choice, to drop out of the Sleepwalkers' Parade and go find themselves a fortune. Assume ten killings to the fortune, and Frito's halfway there. Bannerman's still looking for the ignition. Now in his thirties and still looking for it, well -- still -- he's just about holding on to that rising balloon. The boys are brave and, let's face it, not old. But Frito's had to come back in and merge their companies, to form F&B Consulting Ltd., to stiffen Bannerman's resolve. Because the nerve comes and goes, as does the height at which Bannerman's been aiming: the warehouse in Barking, East London, has become crammed near solid with remaindered crap of a wildly varying assortment lately, soaking up much of Bannerman's life, and all of it governed by one of the great eBay-era laws: there is no product so mean as to be without value, in or out of its wrapper, though crazily more so if its clear polymer hymen is still intact. Hence, this trusty laminating machine.

No shortage of explanations for the lack of killings. Excuses include 9/11, obviously, the dotcom crash, and that there was a worldwide services industry recession on. Well sure. It had been slow even at The Painted Lady, their local café, which was strange because even in a recession Londoners still needed to eat badly. But despite Bannerman's sincere attempt to help, Fatima, The Lady's manager, refused to cut her prices in order to capture market share. There was no consulting some people.

Yes, business is slow. In November this happened: Bannerman spent three whole weeks doing an Ethical Consult for some pissy little outfit, just a couple of guys in Shoreditch doing nothing in particular -- still it was work -- when they, the crappy guys, served him, Bannerman, with an invoice, for their three weeks' consulting.

"No, see, it's you two, ethically consulting us," Bannerman assured them. "Honestly."

"Exactly," goes guy 1. "And we expect to be paid for that service."

Bannerman was like "yeah well," and there followed a lengthy and unbusinesslike exploration of one another's shortcomings.

How could this have happened? Bannerman wanted to know, in a pub session afterwards. The guys sighed that they didn't know either, that they arranged it all very thoroughly with Bannerman's partner, the big Kiwi bloke, what was his name again, Frodo or something.

"Guys," Bannerman had said, clapping them both on the shoulders, "I understand completely."

But how could he complain? Frito wasn't so much about the hassular paperwork side of things, he was more into the hunter-gatherer fundamentals of Trade. He'd taken to moving alcohol around the Eurozone, arbitraging his way around the excise situation. In August he had a breakthrough at a sushi bar: idly peeling the label from his bottle of beer, he discovered that the UK version of premier Japanese lager Asahi is actually brewed in the Czech Republic. A revelation. Which told him that:

Cheap as international shipping was, East European beer was cheaper.

"And it's the best in the world, Bannerman!" So in September, rummaging around Eastern Europe for options, Frito came across a more than usually cheap beer: Sarajevo Pivo, a golden Czech-style pilsner brewed from its own mineral water, which he started selling at a horrendous profit in Hackney that next week. "Sarajevo" having exactly the right branding for your arty East London crowd: heroic, grime-stained, kind of FTW, hints of Trade for Aid about it, and buyable at £0.12/33cl bottle, cases of 20, half-container shipments, EXW Sarajevska Pivara, dd., 15 Franjeva­ cka, Sarajevo 71000, Bosna i Hercegovina.

Declare for excise in Calais, bring the shipments across in unmarked vans, to be distributed by Reza their hollow-eyed delivery guy. Frito's been getting a markup of 35p a bottle. Sweet as. Though that was only possible as long as the authorities didn't look into all these private weddings Frito's been having, which wasn't a worry, except that Frito had started drinking again -- which interferes with his antipsychotics, and the old Disinhibited Personality Disorder started playing up around Customs officials. "Gentlemen," Frito waggling Sarajevo empties at them, "I have of late, wherefore I know not, foregone all Customs & Excise..."

Bannerman was aghast. "You taunted the authorities?"

"Don't get your knickers in a knot," Frito waving a hand through it, "Customs are used to that kind of thing. They enjoy it." With something like 50 percent of all London alcohol smuggled in on reduced excise, Frito's contribution is -- they told him so, shaking their heads at his presumptio...

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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Thomas Leveritt
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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Sarajevo, 2003. Best friends Frito and Bannerman roll into town, still in search of the fortune they missed out on in the dot-com years. For a while it seems that soaking up reconstruction money isn t the worst plan ever. But then they both meet Clare, a prosecutor with the international war crimes tribunal, and they both realise she is the best person they ve has ever met, and that they can t both have her as much as they would, ideally, like. Meanwhile the city is overrun by black marketeers, poker hustlers, intelligence officers, and expat hedonists all high on Dayton money. By the time Frito and Bannerman have started bounty hunting men accused of war crimes, their lives have taken on all the risk - but very little of the money - that they d bargained for.Winner of the Betty Trask Award. Bookseller Inventory # AB99780099513452

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Book Description Vintage Books, 2009. Book Condition: New. Best friends Frito and Bannerman roll into town, still in search of the fortune they missed out on in the dot-com years. For a while it seems that soaking up reconstruction money isn't the worst plan ever. Meanwhile the city is overrun by black marketeers, poker hustlers, intelligence officers, and expat hedonists all high on Dayton money. Num Pages: 368 pages. BIC Classification: FA. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 197 x 131 x 24. Weight in Grams: 246. . 2009. Paperback. . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099513452

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Sarajevo, 2003. Best friends Frito and Bannerman roll into town, still in search of the fortune they missed out on in the dot-com years. For a while it seems that soaking up reconstruction money isn t the worst plan ever. But then they both meet Clare, a prosecutor with the international war crimes tribunal, and they both realise she is the best person they ve has ever met, and that they can t both have her as much as they would, ideally, like. Meanwhile the city is overrun by black marketeers, poker hustlers, intelligence officers, and expat hedonists all high on Dayton money. By the time Frito and Bannerman have started bounty hunting men accused of war crimes, their lives have taken on all the risk - but very little of the money - that they d bargained for. Winner of the Betty Trask Award. Bookseller Inventory # AB99780099513452

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