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The Financial Lives of the Poetsby Jess Walter
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Walter...could not be more topical in [his] depiction of a leveraged to-the-hilt culture run amok, and wiseass Matt makes for a distinctly flawed Everyman running out of chances." Kirkus Reviews
"A surprisingly heartwarming portrait of a good man trying to find his way back home." Bookslist
"Prior is a zany, foul-mouthed Willy Loman in search of a stimulus package, and readers looking for some humor with their layoff notices will certainly relate." Library Journal
From National Book Award-finalist Walter comes a hysterically funny — and painfully timely — new novel of one man's attempt to save his family from economic disaster by putting his entrepreneurial leanings toward a life of petty crime.
About the Author
Jess Walter not only won the prestigious Edgar Award for his novel Citizen Vince — as an acclaimed investigative reporter, he presented the compelling true story of Ruby Ridge: The Truth and Tragedy of the Randy Weaver Family. His latest foray into fiction, The Zero, has earned him a National Book Award nomination.
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