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The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess…

The Financial Lives of the Poets

by Jess Walter

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7505919,219 (3.72)45
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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Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
Not as funny as some 'loser lit' and a bit more experimental with the language. While it could have veered into Weeds territory, thankfully it didn't. I really appreciated the bare emotion of the main character's interaction with his sons and with his father. And I enjoyed the sometimes manic pace, the desperate poor decisions as he veered deeper into sleep deprivation. ( )
  Seafox | Jul 24, 2019 |
Financial woes and a senile father is a depressing set up but the writing is so clever and funny. Picks up speed and humor as it goes along. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
Jess Walter's two previous novels—The Zero and Citizen Vince—showed him to be one of the finest novelists at work today. It's a bit of a letdown, then, to say that The Financial Lives of the Poets (awful title, by the way; the folks at Harper, as usual, clearly asleep at the switch) is a step sideways at best. The novel, which relates the misadventures of a downward-spiraling burgher named Matt, is a likable enough affair, with a soupçon of topical angst, but has little of its predecessors' zip or reckless urgency. Walter remains, however, a writer of great potential. ( )
  MikeLindgren51 | Aug 7, 2018 |
Jess Walter's The Financial Lives of the Poets is interesting in its sense of capturing a time and a place, but less successful in terms of that sense of being able to transcending its own time and specific circumstances. It is a novel that captures very well that sense of panic and hopelessness of its period, of the post 2008 housing crisis, job crisis, that sense of desperate hanging on. It is a novel of bad decisions, drawn in sharp relief, and eventual redemption. The main characters could in many ways be everyman or everywoman, young people filled with hopes and dreams, trying to fulfill their own dreams of what they can be, but making decisions based primarily on the yearnings within themselves looking for fulfillment, working past each other out of their own need rather than together with a sense of relationship and common purpose. Matt and Lisa's lives break into many pieces before they begin to find some sense of comfort in each other, and the book only ends with that hint of redemption, of finding, but without guaranteed resolution. ( )
  dooney | Feb 4, 2017 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
“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
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--
--Turns Out There Are Only Four Eskimo Words for Snow, However--
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