The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter ★★☆☆☆ #BookReview

poetsSynopsis from Goodreads
Small-time financial journalist Matthew Prior gave up his day-job and gambled everything on setting up a website offering financial advice. Then he woke up one day in the middle of the worst crisis since the 1930s with no business, a shedload of debt, a lot of guilt and a great deal of suspicion about his wife.

My Thoughts
The title is what drew me to this book. A book called The Financial Lives of the Poets is just too intriguing to pass up, right?  The first chapter or two were intriguing and interesting… but then it got boring. Here are my pros and cons:


  1. Creative title.
  2. The author has a dry, witty style that I liked. I almost never do this, but I was reading lines from this book to other people because they were so snarky and funny.
  3. This is a pro because it made me laugh – hard. The main character (Matt) quit his job to start a financial poetry website?! A site that gives financial advice in verse??!?! SERIOUSLY? That might be the most hilariously stupid thing I have ever heard. The fact that Matt is shocked it failed is also hilarious to me. This was definitely a pro because it was worth the laughs for sure!


  1. Totally unsympathetic main character. I spent most of the book thinking Matt was a moron.
  2. I seriously dislike characters (and regular people!) that tear others down to raise themselves up. The main character in this book did this big time.
  3. Self-pity galore! Ugh!
  4. The conversations with Matt’s Dad were SO REPETITIVE. I get that Dad’s memory was failing due to dementia and he was, in fact, repetitive by nature… but I didn’t have to experience it in what felt like real time in the book! It was just too much.
  5. Matt even became repetitive. It got really boring.
  6. The book is written in first person, which in and of itself isn’t bad. It felt kind of conversational at first, like Matt was telling an intriguing story to me directly. But then Matt drones on and on and gets very dull and you find you can’t shut him up or get another perspective because Matt is telling the story! I’m not sure third person narration would have helped though, to be honest.
  7. Felt like a bad rip off of the television show Breaking Bad and/or Weeds. I KNOW I can’t be the only person that noticed that.

This is my first Jess Walter book and perhaps this wasn’t the best book to start with. I did like his snarky writing style, but this story got bogged down in so much self-pity and repetitive nonsense that I’m not sure I’d read more of this author’s work at this point. Have any of you read a Jess Walter book you highly recommend?

First published in 2009 by Harper

My rating – 2 out of 5

If you are interested in purchasing this book please consider clicking the image below. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks!

4 thoughts on “The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter ★★☆☆☆ #BookReview

  1. I have read & enjoyed Walter’s first 4 novels & have been meaning to read this one but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’m eager to see how my thoughts about it will compare to yours. The Financial Lives of the Poets sounds different than the ones that have gone before. I think Walter alters his style from book to book. I love his first 2, the Carolyn Mabry Mysteries. I don’t much care for most detective fiction, but he does it just the way I like it. Citizen Vince his 3rd, was also highly enjoyable, and The Zero was really good too but very different from its predecessors. I hope you’ll try some of his earlier stuff. Oh, I also read his nonfiction book about Ruby Ridge and really liked it.

    I think I read & reviewed my Walters before I started blogging, so I’m going to provide the links to my Goodreads reviews of all the above in case you’re interested:

    Happy reading!


    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow! Thanks for the comments! I will check out your goodreads comments tonight and I promise I won’t write off the author without at least another try! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s