Saturday, March 27, 2010

Jess Walter's The Financial Lives of the Poets

The publicist I spoke to was adamant, Walter's latest was not a crime novel. I had to say that I thought, in a round about way, it might be, this even though I had yet to read the novel, and knew little about it other than the title, which attracted me in the first place. After all Citizen Vince from a few years back was a classic. And I was right. After reading The Financial Lives of the Poets, I can say if this isn't a crime novel, I don't know what is. Okay, it's not hardboiled and there are no corpses lying around, but it is a book, pretty noir at that, about the financial and economic crimes committed in our name which force people to commit minor crimes to survive. Family guy Matt Prior, an ex-journalist and writer of financial poetry, is about to lose everything- his wife, his house, his livelihood- thanks to the credit crunch. Going out for milk at the local 7/11, he meets two young drug dealers who change his life and things go from bad to worse. It's a tale that runs from the suites to the streets- the true trickle down economy. Like Citizen Vince, it's also very funny, and reminiscent of Donald Westlake's social satire/crime novels such as The Ax and The Hook.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Was it changed from Citizen Vince to Cousin Vince as it jumped the pond?

Woody Haut said...

Oops. Once a citizen always a citizen. Thanks for pointing that out. I'm going to change it right now.