The Financial Lives of the Poets: Book summary and reviews of The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter

The Financial Lives of the Poets

By Jess Walter

The Financial Lives of the Poets
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2009,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

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 weeklong 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. The decision to include snippets of Matt’s poetry in the novel was a risky one, but Walter pulls it off, never resorting to pretension or overused metaphors for life's meltdowns." - Publishers Weekly

"Walter's bitterly funny follow-up to The Zero (2006) could not be more topical in its depiction of a leveraged to-the-hilt culture run amuck, and wiseass Matt makes for a distinctly flawed Everyman running out of chances. Midlife crisis farce laced with some larger truths about how we live now." - Kirkus Reviews

"In addition to the snarky sendup of modern life, he provides a surprisingly heartwarming portrait of a good man trying to find his way back home." - Booklist

"Prior is a zany, foul-mouthed Willy Loman in search of a stimulus package, and readers looking for some humor with their layoff notices will certainly relate." - Library Journal

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Author Information

Jess Walter Author Biography

A former National Book Award finalist and winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award, Jess Walter is the author of six novels, one nonfiction book and one collection of stories. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages and his essays, short fiction, criticism and journalism have been widely published, in Best American Short Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading, Harper's, Esquire, McSweeney's, Byliner, Playboy, ESPN the Magazine, Details and many others.

Link to Jess Walter's Website

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