Saturday, April 10, 2010

The FInancial Lives of the Poets, by Jess Walter

I always love reading novels in which I think I'd feel at home. I also love novels which are predicated on the idea that life could change into something completely unrecognizable through a series of small events and choices. Because I think that life really is like that, but is not usually written that way. This novel is both of those things. The characters are not very different from me and the people I know. And although Matthew Prior makes some eccentric decisions in his desire to fix his downward-spiraling life, his actions are not really any more bizarre than those any one of us might make when pushed to the edge by the stress of modern living.

The falling man featured on the cover of the novel is eerily similar to the one from the Mad Men intro. Coincidence, or savvy marketing? My guess is the latter. Kind of a stroke of genius, if you ask me. Here's a really great video ad for the book, along with a nice little review.

Where I heard about this book
: NPR's Book Notes

What I thought of this book
: Fantastic. 4 1/2 stars.

What this book is about
: Matthew Prior wakes up one day to discover that he is out of a job, his wife is having a My Space affair, and his house is due for repossession within the week. Yikes. Another victim of the only-way-is-up 90's and 00's. The novel follows his increasingly misguided efforts to pull himself out of both financial and romantic ruin. This is an extremely entertaining book, with a charming character at its center. The best part, to my mind, is that every chapter begins with a poem, in a different style and structure each time.

Which brings me to Jess Walter's website. He and I clearly have similar taste in novels, so now I have even more books to add to my reading list courtesy of his Great Books sidebar. And for 2010 he is writing a haiku review of the books he likes. Which puts him squarely in the sexy authors category.

See his recommended reads and haiku (haikus?) here.

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