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
One likes to have a reason to read/listen to a story. It was so depressing, that it was hard to find a reason to finish, but I storied on. If this is the "new" literature, give me the old.
First of all this story was horrifically under-researched. If you are going to write about a character stepping outside of their element you must learn and write accurately about the world they are entering and not just the element being stepped out of. Without spoiling anything I'll just state that the inaccuracies were appalling.
The lead in this book is a sorry sack of middle class America with a desperate need to hold onto the inflated financial status he believes he is entitled to. This goes for his wife as well who is forgiven every flaw because HE is broke. Value is placed more on money, material and status than on communication, love, or even achievement and this holds true throughout the entirety of the book despite the supposed catharsis the main character experiences before the end. It does a tolerable job examining the mindset of many in the US coming out of the late economic boom into the real-estate collapse but nothing is learned or gained by the experiences of this transition and the characters remain in this sad state of existence. If this was the author's point (which I really don't think it was) then I can only hope his finger is NOT on the pulse of America. If it is, he should have made a far more profound and dark statement--not a cheezy, half-humorous one full of bad poetry.
This story would have benefited greatly from a more skilled narrator. The author's reading was flat, lacked expression, and often turned the end of each sentence down as one unaccustomed to reading aloud. If anything he succeeded only in sounding a bit pretentious about a work that was anything but worthy of pomp.
Aside from a few funny one-liners and scenarios (some already exhausted by other books and media) this book was a shallow story about shallow people. Not my cup of tea.
Say something about yourself!
I started with Jess Walter with “Beautiful Ruins” and decided to listen to ANYTHING he wrote. I have to say this is nothing like Beautiful Ruins – which took him 7 years (?) to write.
This story is reminiscent of youthful thoughts of getting out of a financial disaster with ‘easy’ money with a dash of danger (aka: excitement). Looking back I would say it was mildly juvenile.
I didn’t lose interest but I was definitely tossed back and forth from the 70’s to the present - how to make it in difficult situations. I don’t know how to recommend this book. It is bleak but not. It has its moments of humor, which would have been more humorous if the situations were not so bleak. Inevitability is another word that comes to mind. I will listen to anything else Jess Walter write. I doubt I will listen to this one again.
The negative aspect the character took. Depressing. It stunk.
ALL the characters. The book is bad.
Audible should never have built this book up in their advertising. Books like this are reasons why some customers may not order new books. Personally, I would like a refund.
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