Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter

About 3 minutes into The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter (listening to it on my iPod while driving to Ft. Davis), I texted my book club members, and a couple of other over readers, “Good book – Fincial Lives of the Poets.” Then pulled over and stopped on the side of the road to text, “Correction, Financial.” I live a dangerous life. On the edge. Jane Bond in an SUV! I would like to see Daniel Craig text multiple parties while speeding 75 mph, steering with one knee (naked). But the point is that Jess Walter had me at “The milk is like $9 a gallon,” (you’ll just have to trust me on this).

Matt (main character) and his family feel like reality – not your gritty, gut wrenching tale of abuse and alcoholism and dysfunction – just your normal financially overextended (fiscal Ebola), neopolitan marriage turning to vanilla, yikes I’m middle aged, and my boss is Attila the Hun reality. 

Matt’s a journalist who tried to follow his dream by creating a harebrained website of financial tips in the format of poetry ( – get it?), and gets kicked in the participles for it. The website tanks, his old job (journalist) tanks, his marriage is being dissected on Facebook, his home is triple mortgaged and slipping into the abyss, and his dad who lives with him and his wife and kids is sadly staggering into senility – and it is all so hilarious!

I laughed out loud so many times in this book, and also teared up occasionally when something hit a little too close to home, but the writing is just so dang fun and moved at such a lightning pace. I marveled at Walter’s ravishing ramblings, all the while feeling like a runner just trying to stay up with the pack. Simultaneously wanting to shovel it in faster like macaroni and cheese at the breaking point of a diet. I loved it when he described his wife's sleeping attire as “zero population growth pajamas, made from burlap, asbestos and prison razor wire.”

The bonus is his Haiku and verse about Costco, middle-aged mothers who wear thongs, etc., and the ending was very satisfying – always a deal maker/breaker for me. So now I have to go back and read his other books, The Zero and Citizen Vince. Meanwhile, I strongly suggest you do a holidays detox over The Financial Lives of the Poets.

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,


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