K's Reviews > The Financial Lives of the Poets

The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter
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's review
Aug 09, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: audiobooks, humorous-or-trying-to-be
Recommended to K by: marg

If someone decided to write a novel based on Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before (similar to the movie “Mean Girls” as a fictionalization of Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence), that novel would be “The Financial Lives of the Poets.”

“The Financial Lives of the Poets” focuses on 46-year-old Matt, a true Generation Me-er whose life is going downhill. Earlier Matt bought an expensive house knowing it was a poor investment because he and his wife loved it; he then proceeded to invest even more into remodeling it as well as using it repeatedly for credit when times got harder. He also left a steady job to strike out on his own with a creative and misguided business venture (a website for financial news written in blank verse, of all things) because he felt unfulfilled at work. He has since come to regret both decisions as his business (predictably) failed, his discontented wife went on a regrettable online shopping spree in an effort to start her own ill-fated business, and the bank is about to foreclose his house. Desperate to keep his two kids in private school and unable to find work in his field, Matt turns to drug dealing in an attempt to get himself out of the hole and keep his house as well as his wife, who may be engaging in an on-line affair with an old flame.

This book was readable, funny, poignant, and wise, qualities which don't often coexist in one book. The characters were interesting and true-to-life, the situations were somehow believable in spite of being unbelievable at times, the symbolism and social commentary were clever and on-target, and I even liked the poems! I did take off one star because the climactic scene left me confused. Without revealing too much, I'll say that I wasn't sure how much of the dialogue was dreamed; if that bizarre conversation took place it was really over the top, and if it didn't, that's kind of a cop-out (unless I missed something because I was listening on audio and something in the house distracted me at a crucial point). And while I did enjoy the book a lot, I can understand Rivkie's less enthusiastic reaction as the main character's choices were often highly cringe-worthy.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book and recommend it.
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Reading Progress

16.0% "This is definitely growing on me. Lots of snarky wit, and I'm starting to like the main character despite his poor choices."

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by M (new) - rated it 5 stars

M Glad you enjoyed it. I thought it was so clever.

message 2: by K (new) - rated it 4 stars

K I also really liked it. I guess our tastes do converge at times!

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