In 2002 freelance writer Cari Lynn had a couple friends who made decent livings as traders, so rather than hustling for assignments and hounding publishers for late payments, she thought she’d give the trading floor at the Merc a shot. She donned a polyester clerk’s jacket and with no previous interest or experience in the markets waded into the famed pits. What she found there shouldn’t surprise anyone: a testosterone-riddled, predatory, sweaty, stinky, frenzied atmosphere ruled by, in her words, “good old Fear and Greed.” She details the whole sordid endeavor in her new book, Leg the Spread: A Woman’s Adventures Inside the Trillion-Dollar Boys’ Club of Commodities Trading (Broadway Books). Lynn focuses on the rare women in the biz, from the gold-digging clerks to legends like Bev, the queen of the Eurodollars exchange. Leg the Spread is entertaining–both gossipy and informative–but I still cannot figure out what it means to leg the spread. Something to do with buying something over here, then selling something there to get the other leg, whatever that is, then spreading. . . . Hopefully Lynn can clue fools like me in when she appears as part of the Chicago Book Festival. a Thu 10/7, 7:30 PM, Barnes & Noble, 1441 W. Webster, 773-871-3610.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Frank Isham.