Sunday, March 27, 2011

Recession Poetry

Recently I added All is Vanity by Christina Schwarz to my TBR list.  In 2003, when it first came out, I read A is V, and recognized some characters.  I passed the book on to friends saying, "I actually know someone like this.  Someone who can't pay her credit card bills but refinances her house to add a pool.  Someone whose brand new house might actually go into foreclosure.  Can you believe it?"  In 2011 we can believe it, and I wanted to read A is V  again to see if it still struck me as powerful and accusatory after "The Great Recession".

It turns out that before I got a chance to look back to A is V, I found a new book by Jess Walter that shows the financial collapse of the irresponsible spender (read:  Everyman) post-recession.  At least I hope we are post-recession.  In Walter's book, The Financial Lives of the Poets, the main character, Matt, is a journalist who decides to quit his job about a day before the recession hits, in order to write financial news in the form of poetry.  To compliment his bad timing, Matt's wife, Lisa, goes on an Ebay spending spree, buying up "collectibles" which she is sure to resell at a profit.  A series of horrible but surprisingly understandable decisions follow, showing the reader a fictional version of the financial collapse of the neighbor next door.

Financial Lives is a great book.  In fact, because I just don't want to have to decide if Financial Lives  is better than say Carter Beats the Devil, I've decided to change my page at the top of your screen from "10 Favorites" to just "Favorites" so that I can include more really good books there.  Walter found a perfect and believable voice for Matt, and even makes the concept of financial poetry seem credible.

Next Up:  McSweeney's, Issue 36 by Dave Eggers.  The box arrived in the mail about a week ago, and I can't wait to read the instructions!  You'll understand more soon.

Still Listening to:  What is the What by Dave Eggers.  Talk about a great voice for a character.  Both the voice as written by Eggers and as read by Dion Graham are amazing.  I was a little intimidated at the idea of listening to a book that takes up 17 discs, but I'm not in any rush to finish.

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