From the author of the bestselling Beautiful Ruins comes The Financial Lives of Poets - a brilliantly funny novel about a man who, in an attempt to save himself, may destroy everything he loves. Meet Matt Prior. He's about to lose his job, his house, his wife, and maybe his sanity too. Financial journalist Matt quit his job to set up a website ...
From the author of the bestselling Beautiful Ruins comes The Financial Lives of Poets - a brilliantly funny novel about a man who, in an attempt to save himself, may destroy everything he loves. Meet Matt Prior. He's about to lose his job, his house, his wife, and maybe his sanity too. Financial journalist Matt quit his job to set up a website which couldn't fail. Only now he's woken up to the biggest crisis since the Great Crash, and it has. He's got six days to save his house. It's hard to focus when your wife's having an online affair with her childhood sweetheart, but there are children to think about...So when he gets hold of some high-grade dope and finds he can sell a piece on at a profit, he begins to think this might be his salvation. A fabulously funny, heartfelt novel about how we can skate close to the edge of ruin - and pull back. "A beautifully laid-back exultation of the human connections that make life worth living". (Metro). "Ecstatically funny and unusually big-hearted". (Financial Times). "It made me laugh more than any other book I've read this year". (Nick Hornby). Jess Walter is the author of six novels, His latest novel, Beautiful Ruins, was a New York Times bestseller. Jess Walter lives in Spokane, Washington with his family.
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I first discovered Jess Walter through his novel Citizen Vince, a funny and poignant novel about some gangsters, set amidst the Carter-Reagan election. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Though I (and, I think, Walter) was just a kid at the time, the book resonated with me and felt like an accurate description of the time. I followed up with Over Tumbled Graves and Land Of The Blind, two suspense/thrillers that are at the top of that genre. But it was The Zero that really showed me that Walter was something special - and he was nominated for a National Book Award, accordingly. In an especially creative way, Walter evoked the disjointed horror of 9/11 and the state of shock everyone was in for so long afterwards.
In that same way, Walter nails our current timeframe in his latest, The Financial Lives Of The Poets.
The protagonist, Matt Prior, gets laid off (after his solo effort of a poetry and investment website called Poetfolio.com unsurprisingly fails) and is on the brink of economic collapse. Though his house (which he and his family couldn't really afford) is at the brink of foreclosure, instead of talking to his wife about it, he ... decides to start selling pot. Things ensue.
I won't say much more, because the plot is clever and well constructed, and because it also wouldn't even suggest half of why Walter is such a great writer. This book feels especially timely, even if Prior's situation isn't (thankfully) like anything I'm going through personally. In the same way some people talk about books like Revolutionary Road and The Ice Storm as perfectly capturing an era, I feel strongly that in years to come, The Financial Lives of the Poets will be considered a perfect portrait of the Great Recession.
Publishers Weekly, 2009-08-31 National Book Award-finalist Walter does for the nation's bleak financial landscape what he did for 9/11 in The Zero: whip-smart satire with heart. Matt Prior quits his job as a business reporter to start Poetfolio.com, a Web site featuring poetry about finance, or "money-lit." Unsurprisingly, it tanks, and Matt returns to the newspaper, only to be laid off with a meager severance package. Now not only are the Priors in danger of losing their house, but Matt is convinced that his wife, Lisa, is having an affair with an old boyfriend she rediscovered during her lengthy nightly Facebook sessions. With two sons in overpriced Catholic school and his increasingly senile father to support, Matt's bank accounts dwindle amid his financial planner's dire predictions (diagnosis: "fiscal Ebola"). When an appealing but illegal moneymaking opportunity presents itself, Matt jumps at the chance. 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. (Oct.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
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