Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The man loves journalism the way pedophiles love children

Remember a couple weeks ago when I started spamming everyone to make you go buy Lamb cos it was on sale for Kindles? I didn't just make sure everyone knew the best book ever was on sale. I also scanned through the other books and found one to try out. And so I picked up The Financial Lives of Poets by Jess Walter.

I've had this book on my radar since I read Greg's review waaaaay back in 2010. I trust his recommendations. After all, I liked Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You and Norman's Domestic Violets. Apparently he has become my go-to-guy for middle class white guy problem novels.

The Financial Lives of Poets is a funny book about a middle class white guy dealing with his life falling down around him, primarily due to his ability to make terrible decision after terrible decision. It all starts with our main character Matt's grand idea to quit his job and start the website I think he describes it best: "I know it sounds stupid in hindsight, and perhaps in foresight too, but my idea was that someone needed to start a website that gave financial news and verse." Just let that sink in for a minute.

At no time does this sound like a sound business decision, but Matt happens to make it right as the housing bubble burst. He tried to crawl back to his old job as a business reporter, but the newspaper world isn't doing so well either, so that second round job didn't work out. Now he and his wife are drowning in debt and she's spending her free time flirting (or more?) with an old flame. So what's Matt to do?

The book opens with him at 7/11 to pick up an overpriced jug of milk and he ends up partying with some teenage pot heads. Hey, remember when I said Matt is amazing at making terrible decisions? Yeah, he comes to the conclusion that to fix things he should sell pot! Genius! It's sorta like Weeds*. White middle class parent sells drugs to keep way of life!

Except, not so much like Weeds. And overall I wasn't a huge fan of this one. There are a lot of funny lines but overall I went between not carrying so much about Matt or wanting to hit him. I sort of felt bad for the guy by the end, but it was tinged with my thoughts that he brought this on himself. Not a bad book, and not one I regret reading, but one I'm very happy I got on sale.

But, since there are a lot of lines I like, I'm going to share a few here.

"Note: for future marriage-enriching banter, avoid Nazi humor."

"See! Fiscal Ebola? My financial asshole is bleeding? This was exactly why I started; there are money poets everywhere!"

"it dawns on me that Drug Dealer Dave's sales strategy might be a good one for realtors, too, beginning the home-buying process by pretending to want to search your asshole. Because, honestly, after that everything goes pretty smoothly."

*I really liked seasons 1 & 2 of Weeds. After that I'm very eh on it. So my comparison is only for that part and less of the Mexican drug lord stuff that happens later.

Title quote from page 71, location 1110

Walter, Jess. The Financial Lives of Poets. Harper Collins, 2009.