Sara's Reviews > The Financial Lives of the Poets

The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter
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Oct 16, 09

bookshelves: first-reads, 2009, adult-fiction, hated
Recommended for: no one
Read in October, 2009

The good thing about this book is that I won it on Goodreads. The bad thing is that the book wasn't very good.

Matt is a husband and father who's unemployed, about to lose his house, and thinks his wife's having an affair. He'd quit his previous job to start up a financial website, doling out advice in the form of poetry (which was not particularly funny, despite the attempt to be), and when this idea fell through and bankrupted him, he was unable to get - and hold on to - another job. One night outside a 7/11, he meets a couple of young guys who offer him some pot and Matt suddenly decides becoming a drug dealer for a little while is the answer to his financial problems.

The plot idea isn't all that bad. However, the way it's executed makes the book drag on, and none of the characters are likable. There were a few lines that made me smile; my favorite line is when Matt mentions that the reason he was never jealous of his wife's exboyfriend is because his last name was pronounced "Stain" and how can you be jealous of someone named Stain? That's amusing. Unfortunately, amusing moments were few and far between.

There are poetry interludes constantly through the book, beginning chapters and taking up full chapters as rambling manifestos that have nothing to do with the plot. One short chapter, for example, is a long poem about moms wearing thongs. How does that relate to the main plot? I don't have a clue. And, it wasn't funny. It was just weird.

Although I wanted to feel bad for Matt for being in such a dire financial situation, he wasn't much of a sympathetic character, nor was anyone else in the book. The character development fell flat, and not only did I not sympathize with the characters, I did not even like the characters. Instead of confronting any problem or even acting like a responsible adult, Matt simply headed off to 7/11 to meet up with his new "friends". Most of the attempted humor fell flat, and I had a really difficult time getting through the book. Very disappointing.
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Laura Kinsale Good review, I felt exactly the same


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