Review: The Financial Lives of the Poets
by Jess Walter
Rating: 4 stars
Book Description: A poetically-inclined journalist quits his job in order to start a website that renders financial advice in free verse. When this groundbreaking startup fails, he tries to return to his newspaper job, only to find that the paper is laying off his friends and cutting corners to survive the economic downturn. Meanwhile, his marriage is staggering under credit card debt, a negative-equity house, and suspected infidelity. When our hero decides to deal marijuana to raise enough money to avoid foreclosure, the reader knows disaster lurks just around the bend.
Book Review: I found it amazing that I could laugh so much while my heart was breaking for these well-drawn characters. The people in this novel seem like people I know or have met: complicated, funny, sad and with real problems weighing them down. The novel worked for me because I cared what happened to the people. Sprinkled throughout with phrases from well-known poems, Walter also begins each chapter with a poem created by the protagonist. I enjoyed the variety of forms he uses to introduce chapters: haiku, villanelle, free verse. The homage to poetry, the true-to-life problems, the beautifully-rendered characters, the humor, the commentary on the economic mess with which we are all struggling: this book has it all.
Recommend Book to: Poets and poetry lovers; readers who follow economics, politics, social change, social justice issues, and issues in journalism; AND anyone who enjoys great writing!