Customer Reviews for

The Financial Lives of the Poets: A Novel

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted November 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An emotional, poignant novel

    I have to admit, a novel titled The Financial Lives of The Poets is not something I would normally rush to read. Why would I care about finance and poets? But since people I respect raved about this book, I gave it a try.

    I'm so glad I did! Jess Walter has written a dazzling story of a young suburban family in the throws of the national economic crisis that threatens not only their financial stability but their very existence as a family unit.

    Matt left his job as a business writer at a newspaper to follow his dream- a website devoted to financial news, with advice columns written in poetry. Even in the best of times, this sounds like a risky venture. Matt and his wife Lisa take another mortgage on their house to invest in the company, and then the housing market crashes.

    Matt goes back to his job at the newspaper, only to be laid off when newspapers begin to lose advertisers and readers. Lisa works at a boring job she hates for little money and expresses her dissatisfaction by buying collectibles that she hopes to resell on Ebay. Now their garage is filled with boxes of junk she is unable to unload.

    Their house will soon be in foreclosure, and their children will be forced to leave their lovely Catholic school and go to the dangerous neighborhood public school. Matt's father, who suffers from dementia, has moved in with them after he met a stripper who stole all of his money, and Lisa is contemplating an affair with her old boyfriend. What's a man to do?

    After Matt meets up with some young potheads at the 7-11 one night, he becomes enmeshed in their lives. He hangs out with them hoping to forget his troubles. Eventually, as sometimes happens when under the influence of pot, a plan is created that Matt hopes will solve his money problems.

    The author writes well for his characters. The disintegrating marriage of Matt and Lisa is sad to watch.
    "We're in a perpetual stalemate here; lost. I can see how we got here- after each bad decision, after each failure we quietly logged our blame, our petty resentments; we constructed a case against each other that we never prosecuted. As long as both cases remained unstated, the charges sealed, we had a tacit peace; you don't mention this and I won't mention that, this and that growing and changing and becoming everything, until the only connection between us was this bridge of quiet guilt and recrimination."
    While Lisa and Matt fall apart, Matt's relationship with his dad is so touching. Anyone who has someone in their own family with dementia will relate to Matt and his dad, the loving patience Matt shows his father, the loss of a once-proud man's self-reliance.

    Fans of Jonathan Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You should run to get this book. As a woman, I find this glimpse into the male psyche fascinating. (The cover is even reminiscent of TV's Mad Men opening credits with the falling man.) Matt's poetry is cleverly sprinkled throughout the book, adding an extra dimension for the reader. Walter's look at the economic crisis through the prism of this one family is an emotional, poignant ride.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fun and crazy ride set during the latest financial crisis!

    The Financial Lives of the Poets

    Synopsis:
    Successful throughout his life, Matt Prior finds himself in the unexpected position of being unemployed, deeply in debt and weeks away from losing his home. Things have been difficult at home and he can't bare to tell his wife the true state of their finances. Matt continues with the everyday life - caring for the children, applying for jobs, negotiating with their mortgage lender, and the usual household chores. When one late night, Matt discovers a possible solution - wacky and dangerous though it may be - to solve their financial hell, he decides to give it a go.

    Review: In Jess Walter's The Financial Lives of the Poets, Matt Prior goes on a hilarious and absurd adventure triggered by today's financial crisis. Matt has his own crooked logic that will leave you chuckling, whether he's plotting ways to sabotage his wife's flirtation with her high school boyfriend or eke revenge against M_ who laid him or finding ways to reassure his father during his slow descent to senility. A fun and crazy ride - highly recommended!

    Publisher: Harper (September 22, 2009), 304 pages.
    Review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2013

    Good!

    Really good. The title may throw you off but this was a clever, sometimes funny book about a serious and currently relevant topic. Give this one a try.

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  • Posted May 23, 2012

    light, enjoyable, funny

    light, enjoyable, funny

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  • Posted October 6, 2010

    Great read! Funny and intelligent.

    This is the first book I've read by Jess Walter and am looking forward to reading the others. It's a great read - a simple story told well. The pace is frenetic and the character takes you for a ride along on his life. It is clearly a commentary so you lose a little bit in the depth of the secondary characters but it doesn't make the story any less entertaining. Jess Walters has a very deft hand and uses language brilliantly.

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  • Posted October 2, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Jess Walter is a pretty funny guy

    This book was a lot funnier than I expected it to be. The protaganist, Matt Prior,finds himself in a tough spot. A victim of the financial crisis, unemployment, and a compulsive and unfaithful wife, Matt is pretty desperate to find a solution to these things. However, his solutions include buying a bunch of wood from his wife's high school sweetheart (which he can't afford) and trying his hand at dealing weed. A brief overview of the plot of this novel might leave you thinking that the book would be gimmicky and stupid, just a written version of Showtime's hit series WEEDS. However, Walter manages to use these plot devices to connect the protagonist and the reader to the realities facing many American's today. Even Matt's obligation to care for his senile father represents a common struggle facing baby boomers today. How do you balance the needs of your wife and kids with the need to care for someone who cared for you your entire life? So while the writting is witty and contains a fair amount of stoner humor, the themes of this novel reach much deeper into the conciousness of the American experience. This book is a great commentary on American greed and the expectations we all have which contributed to our collective struggles in the past few years.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The man circling the drain

    This is a pinhole peep at a man whose life is in disarray. First he loses his job as a journalist, and then, gradually, we see him losing all good sense. Windmilling on the edge of disaster, our protagonist struggles in vain to keep up his end of what had been a life with benefits: a big new house, a wife, and two kids in private school. He had me snorting with runaway laughter. Everything is on the skewed side of perfectly possible...one has the sense of trying to reason with someone who's smoked too much pot. Their mind rotates, quickly at first, and then in smaller and smaller circles, until they reach some inevitable stupid conclusion, much like the protagonist in this book. Gets his life in a twist and continues to dig and dig until everything is completely buried. Walter is up to his old tricks in ...Poets, after his huge successes with Citizen Vince and The Zero.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 9, 2010

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
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