2 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Official Review: Stories of the Indebted, by Jorge P. Newbery
Stories of the Indebted is a book that teaches Americans how to deal with considerable debts that could potentially derail their futures. Newbery provides several examples of how savvy debtors can use the law and collection agency policy to their advantage, potentially settling outstanding debts for a fraction of their value. Throughout the book, Newbery provides advice on how to pay off mortgages, obtain leniency if one is short of funds, and deal with banks.
Newbery opens the book with the eye-catching chapter title, “How I Settled a $5,800,000 Debt for $225,000.” Newbery explains how he was expanding his business, but bad luck and the actions of an unscrupulous company led him into a mess of trouble– and the courts– but “a unique set of circumstances” connected to various errors led to his receiving a judgment that only left him liable for a fraction of the debt.
The prose style is interesting. The book is composed of a series of conversations that Newbery has with various people who are all dealing with massive debts, usually at a dining venue like Starbucks, Cheesecake Factory, Subway, or Olive Garden. Sometimes it seems like Newbery tape-recorded his talks with clients, and it reads that he transcribed the dialogue verbatim, even though there were bad jokes or pointless comments and observations that go nowhere. At other times, certain conversational turns or entrants into the discussion seem forced, as if the conversations have been fictionalized to make a narrative point.
I have no idea how well Newbery’s suggestions work in real life. I have thankfully never been in a situation where I would have to use some of Newbery’s advice, and my review is based solely on the quality of the book’s prose, and this should not be viewed as an endorsement– or a denigration of Newbery’s debt relief advice. Some of his advice certainly sounds helpful, but in other cases, his suggestions seem to mean simply skipping out on debt. In many cases, some people might be able to escape their financial obligations without any repercussions to themselves, but the lenders are still out the money, and sooner or later somebody might have to pay for it somehow, perhaps by increased fees or interest rates, or perhaps by some other method that might cover a lending institution’s losses.
The book is always interesting, but after finishing it, I was left uncertain as to how well these policies would work if thousands of people tried them. I remembered a story I read years ago, where a man refused to pay a debt owed to him, so the lender sold the debt to a mobster, who had collection methods that were very different from the ones that a respectable lender would use. I rather wonder what might happen if hundreds of people used certain methods to avoid paying off certain debts, and the lending institutions used the aforementioned tactic as a means of dissuading people from defaulting…
I give this book two out of four stars.
Stories of the Indebted
View: on Bookshelves
Like GKCfan's review? Post a comment saying so!