The lighter side to financial ruin

Financial lives of the poets jess walter


I bought this book by Jess Walter as soon as I finished his excellent summer stunner Beautiful Ruins. It also came highly recommended by one of my favourite British authors, Nick Hornby. It didn’t disappoint.

The Financial Lives of the Poets is a touching, funny and desperate story of laid-off financial journalist Matt Prior and how he sails about as close to the edge of ruin as you can go.

After being made redundant from his newspaper, Matt embarks on starting a poetry website on all things financial. But who needs that, right? So when the hits don’t come and the debt racks up coupled with no income and his wife’s retail therapy on ebay, he ends up having just six days to save his house.

A chance meeting with a pothead at a 7/11 leads Matt to think that small-time drug dealing might be his salvation. The story that develops reminds me a little of Christopher Brookmyre’s comedy/crime novels. Matt’s plan to get funds fast at the same time as spying on his wife’s online lover, dealing with no sleep and a father stuck in the dementia cycle, means a great plot with superb, witty dialogue for us.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The perfect novel to race through in a few days with its short chapters and pacey storyline. My only negative would be that it all got tied up a little too tidily in the end and seemed to be cut short.

An author I will keep reading for sure, though.


Notes on the author – Jess Walter

  • Lives in Washington
  • Author of 6 novels
  • Published in 15 countries