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The Financial Lives of the Poets Paperback – 5 Aug 2010
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When it comes to explaining to me my own too often baffling nation, there's no one writing today whom I trust as completely as Jess Walter. His intelligence and sympathy and great wit inform every page of his terrific new novel (Richard Russo)
Darkly funny, surprisingly tender ... Walter ... has an abiding faith in the ability of human beings to be decent (Los Angeles Times)
A deliciously antic tale of an American dream gone very sour ... sharp, wide-eyed, soulful (Washington Post)
A ridiculously talented writer (The New York Times)
It made me laugh more than any other book I've read this year (Nick Hornby)
From the Back Cover
What happens when small-time reporter Matthew Prior quits his job to gamble everything on a quixotic notion: a Web site devoted to financial journalism in the form of blank verse?
Before long, he wakes up to find himself jobless, hobbled with debt, spying on his wife's online flirtation, and six days away from losing his home. . . . Until, one night on a desperate two a.m. run to 7-Eleven, he falls in with some local stoners, and they end up hatching the biggest--and most misbegotten--plan yet.
The cover of this paperback edition comes in three different colors: green, blue, and orange.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product description
Top customer reviews
I loved Jess Walter's book "Citizen Vince" and followed it immediately with "The Zero", a more experimental difficult read that I failed to finish and which put me off Walter for a bit. I'm glad I came back to check out his latest though as it was a fantastic novel with some excellent characters and a brilliant storyline. I particularly enjoyed/cringed at Matt (the main character) and his wife Lisa's strained marriage as the tension between them builds and the distance between them grows. It felt very real and was the first time I'd seen some of the less positive effects of Facebook reflected in a novel. Matt's encounters with the drug dealers was also interesting with a paranoid lawyer thrown into the mix making for lively conversations.
I would ignore the Nick Hornby blurb which claims that it's an hilarious book as it really isn't. Some of the scenes are light hearted and a bit silly but overall it's a serious novel. This isn't a bad thing though as the writing is top notch, the story doesn't need gags to keep the reader interested, and the characters are wonderfully realised to keep you invested in what happens to them. Matt's relationship with his dementia addled father is particularly touching. Also the ending is remarkably good, Walter showing he is a writer who can write all aspects of a novel brilliantly, beginnings, middles and ends, a rare thing in writers.
One of the best novels I've read all year, original, well written, imaginative, with great characters, a fast moving and interesting story. I can't recommend this higher to anyone looking for a good book to read.
" I know it sounds stupid in hindsight, and perhaps in foresight too, but my idea was that someone needed to start a website that gave financial news and advice...in verse"
So he leaves his job and starts to set up his poetry-driven stock-tips website and while doing this the financial world implodes and with it the economy and with all that bang goes the life and dreams of Matt Prior. The book is about how he deals with this catastrophe - no job, no prospects, no money, on the verge of losing the family home to the bank and his wife to an old flame. Things surely cannot get worse - well, they do. What about a little drug dealing to try to make ends meet? And on from there.
The book has a nice flow, with a pacy, punchy style which looks quite seriously at the issues of personal potential financial disaster and family disintegration (and also includes some educational comments on what exactly did go wrong with our recently deceased financial paradise) while maintaining throughout a wryly humorous attitude. This is not another one of those formulaic thrillers. It is extremely well written. I enjoyed it very much indeed and would highly recommend it
The writing is fantastically stylish: arch and clever with tons of little jokes woven in. It's satisfying even if you have the most refined taste in literature, and entertaining enough to whizz by as you are reading. The book is narrated by the main character, and he too is terribly appealing. You find yourself rooting for Matt Prior's marijuana-soaked plans for financial solvency to work. (And a subplot about Prior's wife, who is spending far too much time on Facebook, makes this the first really good novel to deal with the grey area of Friends Reunited semi-infidelity.)
This is the perfect intelligent holiday novel and I found myself trying very hard not to read it too fast, and desperately looking forward to having twenty minutes at night to dip into it a little more.
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Read Beautiful Ruins instead.