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.
©2009 Jess Walter; (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers
Former English and drama major, bookaholic.
I have never read anything by Jess Walters and so was truly taken by surprise by the sheer intelligence of this guy! The metaphors, the rich, snappy banter of his writing is a treat after some of the bad sitcom-like books I sometimes download by mistake. The story is straightforward and also very touching amid all of this verbal acrobatics. Loved it.
Writing is intelligent and witty. Enjoyed every minute of this reading. More than just a good story--anyone feeling the pinch of today's economy will relate to the protagonist's plight.
As long as I have my Audible, I'm content.
This is a story about a middle-aged couple who hit bottom financially, and the stupid decisions they make to try to recover, and then how it all falls apart. But while that sounds boring, it is anything but. I didn't want to stop listening and always looked forward to getting back to the story to find out what happened next. The narration by the main character Matt is fast and witty, kind of like a hyperactive kid all giddy about his topic. The poetry is corny, but sort of endearing because you're rooting for the guy but at the same time shaking your head at how effed up his reasoning is. And that's another thing that makes this such a good story - it gently shows how tiny stupid decisions can lead to big fallout, but at the same time, that sometimes the fallout isn't such a bad deal after all. It just helps to put things into proper perspective, if only for a time...
I love books, but I particularly love audio books. What a luxury to have someone like Campbell Scott read you to sleep.
Jess Walter's writing reminds me of Gone Girl. Funny, contemporary, "a male voice". (OK more than three words). Jess Walter is the male version of "chick lit" (and I mean it in a nice way). Not only is his storytelling is brilliant, he one of the best narrators. He has a great voice but Jess, please don't give up your day job writing books. I am waiting for your next one.
I'd normally be wary about an author reading his own book, but Walter does a great job. You can hear the deadpan humor in his voice, and he reads it beautifully. (Note: he talks about his experience of reading this book in the afterword of "Beautiful Ruins.")
Excellent story, great characters, and I laughed out loud at least a dozen times.
Wow, loved this book, with a great reading by the author. I didn't want it to be over. One of those books that is so magically captivating in audio format.
This story was so gripping and so relevant for our times that I actually found myself LOOKING for chores to do so I could listen to more (and that is saying something because I HATE housework)! I really cared about the characters, and their choices were unpredictable but believable.
In theory, yes, but I would never listen to any audiobook in one sitting (whoever has that sort of uninterrupted time?!)
Housing again. Well, housing and life. Hard on the heels of Beautiful Ruins, a Walter that blew me away, I listened to this one. Very different. It’s told in the first person and the language is much more poetic. Gritty, gnarly, modern, hard. Time is post-financial meltdown.
The protag., Matthew, is a financial reporter who has lost his job. The family sunk their little all into a business venture: a website presenting financial news in verse! They’re about to lose their house and Matthew may well lose his wife to her high school beau. Facing hard times, the couple contemplates the ultimate comedown: sending the kids to public school! Unable to sleep, Matthew goes in the middle of the night to the 7-11 for milk for his kids’ breakfast. There he hooks up with a couple of homeboys who ask him for a lift to a party, get him high, and.... Added to this mix is Matt’s dad who lives with his family and suffers from Alzheimer’s.
The plotting is fine, characters sharp and language brilliant. Walter does Homeboy better than the homeboys. There are some actual poems, usually rhyming, but better are the descriptions of people, places and situations and his gift for symbol. A micro situation is a metaphor for a macro, perhaps universal, one. At times it’s a torrent of words, each hitting its mark. One of my favorite riffs is a description of Matthew's father’s arid, ruined property which alternates with the (arid, ruined) man himself until it’s hard to tell which is which. There’s another on the decline of newspapers, wherein the first dad who stopped reading the paper on the toilet is likened to first fish that walked on land.
Unllike some authors who should be prohibited by law from reading their own work aloud, Walter performs his own stuff pitch-perfectly.
I don't think he has written that many so far but I look forward to enjoying them all.
The turn of the phrase with 'moments' that I had to stop listening, pause and contemplate the magnitude of the protagonist's statement. Also Jess Walter reading it the way he wrote it is truly significant.
I've read all of Jess' works - the Zero was most disturbing until this one - the reality of the guy's experience - especially the angst coupled with resignation in regard to his job and most pointedly, his perception of his wife's affection for him - wow. So real I felt a little nauseated - like my best friend was telling me of the demise of his marriage - ouch.
Land of the Blind - for character development - the man is a master.
From Dylan - "When you think you've lost everything....you find out you could lose a little bit more."
Bravo Mr. Walter! I can't listen to this book while doing my cardio at the gym - makes me want to stop, towel off my sweat and stumble to the bar to drown my sorrows - or smoke weed for the first time! In my wet socks.
Jess Walter knows how to tell a story. This 7-day adventure is a stream-of-consciousness tale about a modern, post GFC (global financial crisis) family. It is fast paced and
When it comes to narration, some authors make great narrators of their own work (Bill Bryson) and some do not (Dave Berry). Jess Walter nails it. His performance is transparent, which allowed me to hear the story, not the narrator.
When the story ended, I found myself wanting to follow the main character, his family and the variety of wacky characters even further.
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