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Extended Audio Sample The Financial Lives of the Poets, by Jess Walter Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (3,308 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jess Walter Narrator: Jess Walter Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2009 ISBN: 9780061988134
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The Financial Lives of the Poets is a comic and heartfelt novel from National Book Award nominee Jess Walter, author of Citizen Vince and The Zero, about how we get to the edge of ruin—and how we begin to make our way back. Walter tells the story of Matt Prior, who’s losing his job, his wife, his house, and his mind—until, all of a sudden, he discovers a way that he might just possibly be able to save it all . . . and have a pretty damn great time doing it. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Walter is one of my favorite young American writers…Made me laugh more than any other book published this year.”

    Nick Hornby 

  • “Jess Walter’s The Financial Lives of the Poets is a comic, graceful parable of marriage and money troubles in which a well-meaning family man makes decisions that are seriously stupid—and entertaining and American.”

    Sarah Vowell, author of Assassination Vacation and The Wordy Shipmates

  • “When it comes to explaining to me my own too often baffling nation, there’s no one writing today whom I trust as completely as Jess Walter. His intelligence and sympathy and great wit inform every page—indeed every sentence—of his terrific new novel, The Financial Lives of the Poets.”

    Richard Russo, author of That Old Cape Magic and Empire Falls

  • “[Walter is a] deft humorist and catastrophist…dangerously astute.”

    New York Times

  • “A deliciously antic tale of an American dream gone very sour…part noir gumshoe, part average Joe, [Matt Prior] is a sharp, wide-eyed, soulful observer, with a keen eye for the layers of bureaucracy and doublespeak.”

    Washington Post

  • “Darkly funny, surprisingly tender…witheringly dead-on.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “National Book Award finalist Walter does for the nation’s bleak financial landscape what he did for 9-11 in The Zero whip-smart satire with heart.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “The novel has warmth, and its protagonist emerges as a bourgeois Everyman of the downturn.”

    New Yorker

  • “An extremely funny novel…a very smart meditation on what’s gone wrong with both the US economy and those of us who are expected to keep it running…cleverly designed and immensely entertaining.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Jess Walter’s smart and big-hearted take on our bleak national moment is a welcome relief. The Financial Lives of the Poets is a rollicking fiction and an affecting family portrait, as well as a mordantly funny cautionary tale.”

    Sam Lipsyte, author of Home Land and Venus Drive

  • “One of the best American writers working today…It’s a testament to this author’s genius that I could not stop laughing even as he drives home some necessary truths. Walter has written a profound, and profoundly funny, book; this may well be the classic novel of our post-boom era.”

    Ben Fountain, author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara

  • “The funniest way-we-live-now book of the year.”

    Time

  • “Cynical yet warm, this novel about a financial reporter (with a failing website written entirely in blank verse) is a delight.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Walter’s The Financial Lives of the Poets is gasp out loud funny. It’s also sufficiently true to life that you’re grateful it’s not your life. Middle-class mayhem is just the best, at least in Walter’s hands.”

    New York Daily News

  • “Jess Walter is a brilliant writer, one of the freshest new voices in American literature.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “Confirms Jess Walter as a writer of the first rank…his eye keen for the true values of the human heart. This is a hopped-up, raucous stunner of a novel with a hero who’s funny enough to make you weep for what we’ve lost.”

    Whitney Terrell, author of The King of Kings County and The Huntsman

  • “Would be so sad if it weren’t so funny, and so funny if it weren’t so sad…Compassionate, witty and drawn from today’s heartless world, it’s a terrific book.”

    Arizona Republic

  • “Matt Prior…is an Everyman for our parlous times.”

    Seattle Times

  • “A refreshing reminder that fiction remains a relevant, vital way to understand ourselves.”

    Oregonian (Portland, OR)

  • “In this cautionary tale of fiscal follies and collapse Walter delivers a comic and gut-wrenching fable for these impecunious times.”

    Kansas City Star

  • “America’s first Great Recession novel.”

    Spokane Spokesman-Review

  • Selected for the November 2009 Indie Next List
  • A 2009 Los Angeles Times Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 Washington State Book Award Finalist
  • A 2009 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Buddy Bell | 2/20/2014

    " This thing made me laugh more than I ever did reading pages (OK, David Sedaris aside.) Add this to my list of dream movie projects. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathleen Foulke | 2/20/2014

    " I really liked this book. Current, funny, easy to identify with the main character. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bookpaige | 2/18/2014

    " Really funny book. Interesting plot and overall fun read "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Darla Woodworth | 2/5/2014

    " I enjoyed this depressing story! Well told. Jess Walter keep them coming! Every one of your books is so different! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katherine | 2/3/2014

    " Very clever writer, witty, and has his pulse on the current mood. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shelby Cuevas | 1/31/2014

    " Funny, heartbreaking and a narrator you love in spite of himself. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sonya | 1/22/2014

    " I don't know how well this book will read in five or ten years, but it captures the instability and disappointment with now better than any book I've read recently. The narrative voice is warm and funny; you can feel his frustration and fear along the way. Really enjoyed this one-day reading experience. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Paula | 1/20/2014

    " I'd give this a 2.5 if I could. Walter is an excellent writer but "suburban white guy malaise" is one of my least favorite topics in fiction. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caitlin | 1/16/2014

    " Beautiful Ruins is a less snarky effort but preserves all of the author's charm and humor. In this book, his wit gets bogged down in half developed political statements and metaphors. Good author; not a good story though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Irene | 12/8/2013

    " Wonderful read. Just what I hope for from a novel. Insight into what makes us tick, humor, and a sense that I will miss theses characters when the book ends. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Evan | 11/3/2013

    " A highly amusing novel - it made me interested in seeking out other work by this author. His style at times hints of DeLillo, thought more lighthearted and optimistic. He uses repetition effectively to make humor out of absurdity, and the story is fun as well. Recommended. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bdwendell | 10/10/2013

    " Best book I've read in a while. As hilarious as it was heartbreaking. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Janice | 9/13/2013

    " I loved this book! It was humorous and personal at the same time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ruth Vanderhart | 7/24/2013

    " Creative, funny--but depressing. Maybe because it's the 2nd book I've read this week about the impact of the "Grand Recession." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephanie Dunn | 3/18/2013

    " New author for me. Will check out more of his books. Great characters, funny stanzas thrown in, love the failed biz idea (poetfolio.com.) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 K. Conner | 2/10/2013

    " at times amusing, but not nearly as good as his Beautiful Ruins "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David Friedman | 12/24/2012

    " It's very funny and very contemporary. About a guy who is in the newspaper business whose finances take a deep turn to the bottom and how he "deals" with it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alex Henke | 8/15/2012

    " Supreme writing. Scary and funny and surprising. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jack | 4/29/2012

    " fast read, fun read, and wow, mirrors my life right now, crazy! great writing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue Hovey | 12/29/2011

    " My favorite Walter book is Citizen Vince. That is still my favorite, but this one was fine reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dawn | 10/23/2011

    " Interesting book, fun and comical. Format was a bit different, needed to get to used to it, but I liked it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kelli | 9/29/2011

    " laughed out loud. couldn't put it down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maya Lang | 8/18/2011

    " Found this incredibly funny and tough to put down... sort of _The Bonfire of the Vanities_ meets "Breaking Bad." (Also, as an aside, Jess Walter is a man! No wonder the male voice in it is so convincing.) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Moriah | 8/4/2011

    " Such a dismal premise, but the book had me laughing out loud. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lghamilton | 5/15/2011

    " I really liked the author's style, but the story line petered out about 3/4 through. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bernadette | 5/10/2011

    " I loved this - Jess Walter is so funny and so profound without being at all pretentious. Also loved Citizen Vince. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jamie | 5/10/2011

    " He is an amazing writer -- one of the best out there. I feel like he is oddly under-rated, and still many readers don't know about him. I hope that changes. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nick | 5/10/2011

    " Enjoyable and short-- didn't enjoy it as much as Citizen Vince, a previous book of his that I read in college. A little more realistic-- maybe too much so (jobless, shiftless dad, foreclosure victim, apparent cuckold, etc.). Easy read, though, and a page-turner. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ric | 5/6/2011

    " Funny, sad and biting all at once. Great ear for dialogue and the narrator/main character is wholly likable, though bad decisions seem to be his forte. Looking forward to what the author does in the future. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Denise | 5/4/2011

    " Read the first chapter and half the next. Very depressing, I cannot bring myself to pick up this book to read anymore of it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharon | 4/20/2011

    " Funny, poignant and memorable characters. I also highly recommend Citizen Vince by the same author - another laugh out loud novel with political and social commentary that doesn't need to be spelled out. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Al | 4/18/2011

    " Not quite sure what to make of this book. I liked it. . . .I think. . . Perhaps my book club discussion tonight will help. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 4/16/2011

    " A very funny book - one of the few recent novels that made me laugh out loud. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mike | 4/9/2011

    " This really seemed like it would be right up my alley, yet it was not. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kendra | 4/8/2011

    " One of the best books I've read so far this year. It captures the deluded eternal hopefulness of North American culture of spending and debt, with charming lightness and surprisingly (and really well done) interspersed verse throughout the prose of the novel. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barbara | 4/2/2011

    " I listened to this book on my iPod, read by the author, Jess Walter, and loved it! The story of a family, caught in the recent economic collapse, is funny and touching and, above all, satisfying. "

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