The Financial Lives of The Poets, by Jess Walter (HarperCollins $25.99 ) I've been reading Jess' books for a few years now, and I can safely agree with his wife: "No, dear, you aren't funny." So, in spite of that assessment, Jess set out to write a comedy novel. He has succeeded, if you like your comedy dark and on the bleak side.
Turns out, this is a brilliant novel that captures the free-falling zeitgeist of our current society.
Matt Prior left his newspaper job to begin his start-up blog: poetfolio.com During the boom economy, it seems to be a sure fire hit; financial news in verse. Now at the end of his savings, about to be evicted from the house they bought and have loved, a fateful trip to the 7/11 changes everything. He needs milk. For the boys. For their cereal. In the morning.
That shit's like, $9 a gallon!
Here is a beautifully played out drama, a family you can love. Coming utterly undone. About to lose his house, with no job or prospect, his wife is certainly having an on-line affair with her high school boy friend... Matt's encounter at the 7/11 sets off a new venture: sell pot to the aging boomers who still fancy themselves "happening". A tap on the shoulder a couple days later dashes that American Dream. By the end of the book, there is redemption, resolution, and resignation. And re-connection with family.
The poetry sprinkled throughout is perfect, I recommend A Brief Political Manifesto on page 39.
Luke Baumgarten has written the review I only wish I could. Go read it, and stay tuned for Jess Walter in Second Life, sometime in October.
On a somewhat related note: I will be interviewing Mason Tvert for his book, Marijuana is SAFER on Oct 5th, 6pm (Pacific) at our new place: Lacamas Reading Hall. We'll discuss marijuana myths, propaganda, and how to become active for pro-cannabis legislation.