Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Financial Lives of the Poets

Spokane-based author Jess Walter has just produced a corker of a book, The Financial Lives of the Poets. In his funniest novel yet, Walter tells the story of small-time finance journalist Matthew Prior, who quits his day job to gamble everything on a quixotic notion: a Web site devoted to financial journalism in the form of blank verse. One day Matt wakes up to find himself jobless, hobbled with debt, and on the verge of losing both his wife and his home. Is this really how things were supposed to end up for me, he wonders. The book follows Matt on his week-long quest to save his marriage, his sanity, and his dreams, starting the night he hits the 7-Eleven in the middle of the night to get milk for his boys and ends up falling in with two pot-smoking low-lives.

Writers as diverse as Richard Russo and Sarah Vowell have both raved about this new book, and the New York Times calls Walter "a ridiculously talented writer." The "Brief Political Manifesto" about mom's underwear presented in Chapter 4 (in fact, it is Chapter 4) will leave you wiping tears of laughter from your eyes. Reviewers have called it "cringe-inducing hilarity," "whip-smart satire with heart," and a "snarky sendup of modern life...[that] provides a surprisingly heartwarming portrait of a good man trying to find his way back home." Walter's book The Zero was a finalist for the National Book Award, and his novel Citizen Vince won the Edgar Award for Best Novel. Check out the trailer, then check out the book!

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