Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Review: The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter

Meet Matt Prior. He's about to lose his job, his wife, his house, maybe his mind. Unless . . .

In the winning and utterly original novels Citizen Vince and The Zero, Jess Walter ("a ridiculously talented writer"—New York Times) painted an America all his own: a land of real, flawed, and deeply human characters coping with the anxieties of their times. Now, in his warmest, funniest, and best novel yet, Walter offers a story as real as our own lives: a tale of overstretched accounts, misbegotten schemes, and domestic dreams deferred.

A few years ago, small-time finance journalist Matthew Prior quit his day job to gamble everything on a quixotic notion: a Web site devoted to financial journalism in the form of blank verse. When his big idea—and his wife's eBay resale business— ends with a whimper (and a garage full of unwanted figurines), they borrow and borrow, whistling past the graveyard of their uncertain dreams. One morning Matt wakes up to find himself jobless, hobbled with debt, spying on his wife's online flirtation, and six days away from losing his home. Is this really how things were supposed to end up for me, he wonders: staying up all night worried, driving to 7-Eleven in the middle of the night to get milk for his boys, and falling in with two local degenerates after they offer him a hit of high-grade marijuana?

Or, he thinks, could this be the solution to all my problems?

Following Matt in his week long quest to save his marriage, his sanity, and his dreams, The Financial Lives of the Poets is a hysterical, heartfelt novel about how we can reach the edge of ruin—and how we can begin to make our way back.

Received from the publicist for review.

Although I wouldn't consider this laugh-out-loud funny, it was amusing and infinitely readable.

Some of my favorite quotes were:

Early middle age is such a creepy time, and I constantly find myself wishing I were more the younger me.

It's the devil's taunt - watching people stupider than oneself making fortunes.

This one gets four stars. It was amusing and readable with great gems like "financial ebola". The tone was very nice, with a very real feel to it. Although it did remind me a bit of Weeds it was still a fun read with a nice style. It certainly left me wanting to investigate other books by the author.

★★★★ = Really Liked It


trish said...

I'm glad you liked it, Beth! Thanks for being on this tour!

You've reminded me that I've been meaning to check out Weeds...

Lisa said...

If you didn't know that there are people out there in very similar situations, you might think "c'mon, are you really going to heap that on top of Matt's pile of woes?" But there was never anything that I found completely unbelievable here and I enjoyed trying to add some levity to the situation.

Anonymous said...

I'd been wondering about the comparison to Weeds. I've never seen the show, but it still crossed my mind.

I enjoyed this book, I'm glad you did too.

sharon54220 said...

WOW!! Another book to add to my list. Even though this is a novel, it sounds like it's based on the way things are today. This can possibly happen to anyone.

Thanks for the review.

Gals - Very Smart Gals said...

I loved it as well. My fav quote was when he called his wife's pj's "zero population control pajamas made out of burlap, asbestos and razor wire (or something like that). The man can sure string some words together!!

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