Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Financial Lives of the Poets

I did not like it. I thought it was outlandish and yet trendy (in that odd, hipster-cool in the oversize sunglasses and too-tight pants clutched to man-hips way).*

A journalist sinks all his money into a failure--a website that dispenses financial advice in free verse, then is seemingly surprised as everything else goes to pot: his marriage, the mortgage on his house, and his job. So he turns to pot himself--literally--he becomes a weed dealer for yuppies in his neighborhood. Like My Name is Will, the author reached for a distant far-fetched plot, but where Winfield succeeds in humor and transcendent emotion, Walter falls a little short.

However, if you have a bunch of poetry you've read rushing around between your ears, you'll really enjoy the way that Walter inserts it so neatly into the text. It's so quietly done, what you don't recognize you'll miss. For example, on p. 91, he's driving with his weed dealer to a growhouse hidden in a low-key suburban neighborhood:

"We park behind a red Camaro (so much depends on a red Camaro) and I follow Dave and Jamie between piles of leaves up the sidewalk..."

*One could say, "Oh, but you're one of the hipsters, aren't you?" In many ways, yes; I do enjoy dark roast coffee and museums and I like being around "artistic" people. But no, because I wear regular pants, regular sunglasses, and I like my fictional tragedies as real as possible.