I've Got To Finish A Book Project

I am working on a submission (outline and several chapters) for a book prize that is due December 31, so I may not be posting much over the next week.  The contest is for a novel that promotes the principals of freedom, capitalism, and individual responsibility in the context of a novel (hopefully without 120-page John Galt radio speeches). 

My project is one I have been tinkering with for a while, an update of the Marshall Jevons economist mysteries from the 1980's.  If you are not familiar with this series, Marshall Jevons was a pseudonym for a couple of economists who wrote several murder mysteries that included a number of expositions on how economics apply to everyday life.  Kind of Agatha Christie meets Freakonomics.  I found the first book, Murder at the Margin, to be disappointing, but the second book called the Fatal Equilibrium was pretty good.  I think the latter was a better book because the setting was university life, and the murder revolved around a tenure committee decision, topics the authors could write about closer to their experience.  The books take a pro-free-market point of view (which already makes them unique) and it is certainly unusual to have the solution to a murder turn on how search costs affect pricing variability.

Anyway, for some time, I have been toying with a concept for a young adult book in roughly the same tradition.  I think the Jevons novels are a good indicator of how a novel can teach some simple economics concepts, but certainly the protagonist as fusty stamp-collecting Harvard professor would need to be modified to engage young adults. 

My new novel (or series of novels, if things go well) revolves around a character named Adam Smith.  Adam is the son of a self-made immigrant and heir to a nearly billion dollar fortune.  At the age of twenty, he rejects his family and inheritance in a wave of sixties rebellion, joins a commune, and changes his name to the unfortunate "Moonbeam."  After several years, he sours on commune life, put himself through graduate school in economics, and eventually reclaims his family fortune.  Today, he leads two lives:  Adam Smith, eccentric billionaire, owner of penthouses and fast cars, and leader of a foundation [modeled after the IJ]; and Professor Moonbeam, aging hippie high school economics teacher who drives a VW beetle and appears to live in a trailer park.  There is a murder, of course, and the fun begins when three of his high school students start to suspect that their economics teacher may have a second life.  As you might expect, the kids help him solve the murder while he teaches them lessons about life and economics.  The trick is to keep the book light and fun rather than pedantic, but since one business model in my last novel revolved around harvesting coins in fountains, I think I can do it.

Anyway, wish me luck and I will be back in force come the new year. 


  1. Steve:

    I'm amazed at how damn productive you are. Obviously, your intellegence helps, but I'm fairly smart and there's no way I could run a company, publish a widely-read blog, write multiple books, publish a treatise on global warmning, etc.

    You're the freakin' Ryan Seacreast of the blogosphere.

  2. Jim Hart:

    I second Steve's comments. Bravo!!!

  3. Some guy:

    Good luck on this book of yours.

  4. nicole:

    I love it! I love the Marshall Jevons books, I think more books along this line are an amazing idea, especially for younger readers. Have you read either of Russ Roberts's novels? I liked both a lot but probably preferred The Invisible Heart (he's publishing a third soon I believe).

    I too am impressed by your productivity. Good luck with the submission! (PS--If you ever need a copyeditor...)

  5. Mesa Econoguy:

    Meyer, dammit, I thought I told you quit being so goddamn lazy, you Ivy League slacker!

    First, you take a little “recess” to be with your family, next you want a national holiday, for Crissakes! You lazy bastard! GET BACK TO WORK!

    In all seriously, do have a wonderful Christmas, and (had) a respectable Hanukkah.


    Honorary M.O.T.

    PS You’re the Milton Friedman of Global Warming. Don’t go die on us now….

  6. Jeff Ellis:

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who could do without the 120-page rant from John Galt.

    The novel concept sounds great, good luck!


  7. lovely:

    I would say COOL!!! Really. The first thought in my mind is about the "fresh candy car body painting