A tell-all book born from gossip at Goldman Sachs

By Julie Bosman / New York Times News Service

Published Jan 26, 2014 at 12:01AM

“Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance and Excess in the World of Investment Banking” by J.T. Stone (Touchstone)

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, said Wednesday it had acquired “Straight to Hell.” 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 hopes to keep his real identity hidden. He declined to comment on whether he is still working at Goldman.

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 said via email 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. 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.”

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 has sold about 19,000 copies in hardcover.