Ron Slate was born in Quincy, Massachusetts. He earned his Masters degree in creative writing from Stanford University and studied American literature at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He edited a poetry magazine, The Chowder Review, for 15 years. From 1994-2001, he was vice president of global communications for EMC Corporation, then was chief operating officer of a biotech/life sciences start-up. He is currently a board member of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities (“Mass Humanities”), a member of the National Book Critics Circle, and a judge for the 2019 PEN America Translation Prize. He lives in Milton and Aquinnah, Massachusett
The Incentive of the Maggot, his first book of poems, was published by Houghton Mifflin. The collection was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle poetry prize and the Lenore Marshall Prize of the Academy of American Poets. The collection won the Bakeless Poetry Prize (Breadloaf Writers Conference) and the Larry Levis Reading Prize of Virginia Commonwealth University. The Great Wave, his second book, was also published by Houghton.
In 2016, Ron and his daughter Jenny Slate co-wrote and published a memoir, About The House, via the generosity-based publisher Concord Free Press, helping to raise over $200,000 for non-profit organizations in the USA and abroad including Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.
"I mean, if you buy blue jeans, I want to know how much money you have spent on both blue jeans and poetry."
This is a collection of various stories about money and our relationships with it.
Some are poetry and some are essays and some are interviews or short stories. While it's a wide range of authors featured and some essays weren't particularly compelling to me I really enjoyed reading the book. Especially given how Concord Free Press operates it's interesting to read how other people look at money. Some are sad and others are funny. Even if a few are 'meh' it's a generally good collection of thoughts.
If you can get a copy it's absolutely worth picking up.
Received IOU as part of the mission of Concord Free Press.
After finishing IOU, I felt ready to put off reading for the foreseeable future. It's not that it was bad, it just draaaaaaagged. A few of the stories within were even quite engaging, but overall, it was difficult to keep going. But keep going I did, and here are my thoughts.
The book is comprised of short stories (some in the form of "advice"), poems, and two interviews. All of the pieces deal with money in some form. If you like poetry or spoken word, you may actually enjoy a good portion of the book. If I am going to read poetry, however, it should be moving, engaging, not just a series of short phrases, truncated for appearance-sake, about something not-that-surprising or unique. But, like I said, if you enjoy reading poetry, you will probably enjoy at least half of this book.
The two interviews are interesting. One is with a woman who was involved in a bank robbery in 1970 (Katherine Ann Power) and the other is with a woman who pled guilty to embezzling a couple hundred thousand dollars from her bank-employee (Donna Lee Munson). If not insightful (though the second certainly was), the interviews were entertaining.
And then the stories. These really varied, story-to-story. For a list of the stories and a 1-2 sentence reaction, see my blog ( All Book Reviewer). Overall, the book was disappointing because my feelings were often summed up with: "so, what's your point." Overall, 2 of 5 stars. Because occasionally, a story within was really good.
The concept is cooler than the book itself. It contained a few interesting essays and some poetry that didn't thrill me. It was free, though. The process made me think and I truly appreciate that. It seems unfair to rank a book higher based on those external forces.
This is a fabulous collection of essays, interviews, stories, and poems, some by writers I've heard of, most by names who were new to me. There's a fair amount of confessional, with frank discussion of financial mistakes, and mostly steers clear of judgment of others and retains a sense of humor and irony. Very worthwhile.