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The Financial Lives of the Poets (edition 2009)

by Jess Walter

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6655514,427 (3.72)41
Member:kate.librarian
Title:The Financial Lives of the Poets
Authors:Jess Walter
Info:Harper (2009), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:2012

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The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter

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The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter follows Matthrew Prior, a journalist who loses his job, thinks his wife is having an affair, and, for a lack of a better term, is in the middle of a midlife crisis. Out of money, and no hope of earning more, on the brink of losing his house, he takes a fateful trip to the 7-11 where he meets two people who offer to smoke him up.

Prior quit his job as a journalist to follow his dream of starting a poetry/financial website, offering advice to investors in the form of haikus and sonnets. When this fails, after dumping his savings into it, he finds himself at an odd position: should go back to his old job, even though his paper is about to start massive lay-offs?

But when we meets two drug dealers at 7-11, his life is about to change. Armed with the idea that he can make enough money to keep his house by selling weed to his rich older friends, he becomes a drug dealer.

“If so, then I am an even smaller man than the out-of-work, out-of-gas loser who greets me in the mirror every day, and maybe I deserve my unraveling fate, pushed away from this beautiful beaten wife, who goes out every night on the Internet in search of her better self — pre-child, pre-40, pre-me.”

The Financial Lives of the Poets is almost unbelievable, but then I remember all the people that I know that have lost their jobs because of the recession and then turn to dealing drugs. I can respect the midlife crisis now because I appear to be going through a quarterlife crisis. When nothing is certain and everything you've ever known, thought you wanted, and everything you planned is suddenly disappearing before your eyes, you do things that you normally wouldn't do.

Walter's characters are easily liked and you can get a sense of the desperation that Prior is feeling, grasping at any straw he can to save his house, his marriage, and to keep his life intact. The story really picks up towards the second half of the novel, becoming funnier and more heartbreaking as Matt begins to realize that his life has changed forever. ( )
  joshanastasia | Oct 20, 2016 |
I am continuing my trip through Jess Walter's books. This one was excellent. It deals with the financial impacts of the 2008 downturn and is told with Walter's usual touch of humor. The book is told in a first person narrative which I don't always feel gives you a total picture of all of the characters. This book is so focused on Matt the main character that it is not important to get into the heads of the other characters. Matt and his wife Lisa have put themselves on the brink of financial ruin through risking a business venture that went bust, an over priced home, and LIsa's consumerism. Matt is keeping the impending loss of their home from Lisa and seeking a way out. The book follows his touching humorous journey. It says a lot about what was going on in the country during that time. It is just under 300 pages and is an excellent read. I continue my march through Jess Walter's works and he continues to come through. He is definitely one my favorite writers. ( )
  nivramkoorb | Jul 10, 2016 |
Matt Prior is the modern-day Rabbit Angstrom. I would love to read a series with him as the protagonist, mainly because I really enjoy his sarcasm. ( )
  Mon_Ro | Jul 5, 2016 |
I believe this is the third book I've read in a row that deals with redemption. A journalist/poet is stuck in the height of the recession out of work and with a failing marriage. Join him on his quest for redemption and financial security. ( )
  sandsjd | Jun 3, 2016 |
This book is hard to read in that it touches on almost every bad thing that is happening in the economy right now. Throw in an affair, a senile parent and you've got a recipe for a real downer. But Walter throws in plenty of humor. His Matt Prior is a real wise cracker, even when he's up to his eyeballs in debt, losing his wife, and contemplating an illegal way to get himself out of trouble. ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
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“The Financial Lives of the Poets” is less memorable for its title than for the success with which it captures fiscal panic and frustration... Mixing financial advice with poetry is a terrible idea. But combining the elements of tragedy with a sitcom sensibility is a good one. And it’s what Jess Walter continues to do best.
 
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Poets have to dream, and dreaming in America is no cinch. Saul Bellow
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For Anne, always
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--Here they are again--the bent boys, baked and buzzed boys, wasted, red-eyed, dry-mouth high boys, coursing narrow bright aisles hunting food as fried as they are, twitchy hands wadding bills they spill on the counter, so pleased and so proud, as if they're the very inventors of stoned--
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--Turns Out There Are Only Four Eskimo Words for Snow, However--
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Matt Prior is losing his job, his wife, and his house, and he's about to lose his mind--until he discovers a way that he might possibly be able to save it all.

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