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Publisher's Summary

Meet Matt Prior. He's about to lose his job, his wife, his house, maybe his mind. Unless...

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

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Kim
  • Spokane, WA, United States
  • 10-03-12

Good story - excellent narration

This is my 2nd Jess Walter book - I read Citizen Vince (for real - not on audio) and thought it was OK but not really in my wheelhouse. I'm really glad I gave this one a chance. The story takes off, then backtracks, then takes off again several times over - you'd think this would be annoying but his narration kept it all together quite nicely. The fast pace, fantastic dialogue and believable characters make this one a winner in my book. I can totally relate to the main character - he's a good guy who gets tangled up in a desperate attempt to pull himself and his family out of a hole. I know If I were ever to venture into the world of being a drug dealer - I would totally screw it up too. 3 & 1/2 stars for sure.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
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  • Story

Enjoyable writing. Pathetic lead character.

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

People who appreciate adult males who feel victimized.

What about Jess Walter’s performance did you like?

HE was enjoyable to listen to.

Any additional comments?

I found the writing style enjoyable and will go read more by the author. But if the main character is representative of today's male, then we do belong living in low rent housing hoping our wives will pay attention to us and praying that our children don't recognize that we have failed in taking care of them the way children should be .

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • cristina
  • Somerville, MA, United States
  • 09-10-12

Not quite as good as Beautiful Ruins

I loved Beautiful Ruis, so perhaps the stars I gave this one suffered by comparison. In reality, I found the novel both funny and tragic. The author's wit often had me laughing out loud -- like, really out loud...to the point that I am sure other drivers might have considered the woman in the car a tad suspect. The story is about a man who loses everything -- in a quite believable manner. He is in shock and, at the same time, simply accepting that this catastrophe is his fate. You are there for the ride.

I guess my problem was that the story, as a whole, was ultimately unsatisfying. Not heart-wrenching in the way of Beautiful Ruins. The story. Just. Ends. Perhaps it's more realistic than attempting to give it another spin, but, what can I say, it left me wanting.

I do recommend it. And, perhaps, if I had not read Beautiful Ruins first, I would have given this four stars overall. I certainly want to read more from Jess Walter.

I actually thought the author did a great job reading his own work. No, he was not the Amazing Narrator from Beautiful Ruins, but I do like hearing authors read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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What a romp!

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.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jesse
  • san ramon, CA, USA
  • 07-17-10

Love it

My type of dry and always bad timing humor. Very well written and just a great book.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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A great story.

I love that the writer was also the reader. His voice is easy to listen to. I also enjoyed how easy it was to relate to the main character and his wife.

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Disappointed Reader

Enjoyed reading Beautiful Ruins and thought I'd try another book by this author. Big Mistake!! Not even close to my expectations 🙁.

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I loved this story.

Good narration of a wonderfully funny, and at times hilarious, story. It gives us a really good look at what's really important in the crumbling upper middle class, and how easy it is to crash and burn to the bottom.

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New favorite author

Funny, sad, smart, depressing, and hopeful all at once. Loved the characters and the narration by Walter was so good.

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One of his best

I loved beautiful ruins but this was better. Serious & comic; this is a masterpiece of writing. The reader is fine as well.