The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter

Mary Guterson
Student, MFA

The Financial Lives of the Poets is sharply funny and fast paced with a plot that takes off from the first page. In this novel, our poor narrator has somehow gotten himself trapped in a pot-selling scheme that has the potential to ruin him forever. Forget Franzen’s Freedom. Jess Walter’s take on modern family life and the economic woes of the country is much more fun. It’s better written, too. Here’s a sentence from the beginning of chapter 8, chosen at random just now as I leafed through the book: “My dreams tend to be either so obscure as to seem random, or so obviously connected to my subconscious that it’s embarrassing–as if even my hidden depths lack depth.” That’s just one throw-away sentence, and yet, look at it. It’s funny, it’s self-deprecating, it’s human. This book is a winner on all counts. Try it!
On Samuel Johnson and his Lives of the English Poets, H.M.
“Wallace Stevens’s Fascist Dilemmas and Free Market Resolutions,” Lisa Siraganian, Oxford Journals
Eleven Questions for Jess Walter, Sherman Alexie

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