This book is about a reporter who quits his job in the early aughts to start an internet website of financial advice written poetically. It does not succeed. The whole time I was reading this book, it felt like the author’s excuse to publish what she knew was terrible poetry, but with a small hope that it might be good or profound. It wasn’t.
Excerpts from “The Financial Lives of the Poets” by Jess Walter.
“I don’t want to spend every night tailing her online like some Internet P.I. I don’t want to be sneaky and I don’t want to catch her cheating or thinking of cheating or wishing she could cheat. And hell, if she does cheat, I’m not even sure I want to know about it. I’d rather be the blithe idiot: get up in the morning, go to a job, come home, help my kids with their homework and go to bed with my wife, clueless. Especially now – with this noose tightening around my neck and the sense that it’s all getting away from me… I only want comfort. Peace. I don’t want to have to work on my marriage; I just want to have it.”
“[T]he truly stupid mistake was believing that when we fell, a net made of money could catch us.”
“My dreams tend to be either so obscure as to seem random, or so obviously connected to my subconscious that it’s embarrassing – as if even my hidden depths lack depth.”
“I thought of myself as more than a simple newspaper reporter, somehow better than the mean of my colleagues. I offer no excuses for this arrogance, and no rationale, either; I simple felt bigger than what I did for a living, like I was slumming, like I deserved more money, more respect and more esteem than any grubby newspaper could offer.”
“The man loves journalism the way pedophiles love children.”
“I do hate concerts. I have hated them ever since we went to an outdoor festival once and were nearly trampled to death. I hate paying three times the cost of a CD just to stand in an unruly crowd and think one of two things: (A) this song sounds just like it does on the CD or (B) this song sounds nothing like it does on the CD.”
“only bullies respond to being bullied by being bullies…”
“I’m also sure of this: I’ll never fall in love again. I’ve lost my innocence. And my disappointment is not that my own home has lost half its value. What disappoints me is me – that I fell for their propaganda when I knew better, that I actually allowed myself to believe that a person could own a piece of the world when the truth is that anything you try to own ends up owning you. We’re all just renting. And this is how the poets failed us.”
“You can tell when you’re in an empty house… There was nothing there… an emptiness that felt unnatural. I think about all of those foreclosures out there: an empty house is an abomination.”