Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jess Walter

Jess Walter's latest novel is The Financial Lives of the Poets.

From his Q & A about the novel at Fringe Magazine:

Q. You dedicate this novel to a couple of “dismayed and displaced newspaper friends, whose talent and commitment deserve a better world.” Did you initially set out to write a novel about a journalist damaged by the decay of the newspaper industry, or did making Matt Prior a newspaperman just seem to fit the character you had already envisioned?

A. I rarely set out to do anything. The bud of “Financial Lives” was a piece of the first chapter that I wrote, a big, sloppy poem in which a guy goes into a 7/11, runs into some dudes looking for munchies and two hours later is stoned stupid. That was months before I began working on the novel. I tried the thing aloud at a few readings and became so taken with that voice–even though it was an awful poem–that I began that great process of trying to figure out who this guy was, other than some middle-aged guy shocked by the improved potency of pot. He rants and dissembles and makes fun of himself, but seems almost charmed by his own failings. I liked him.

As often happens with me, I rifled through the trunk of other things I wanted to write about at the time, the other cultural obsessions I have at that time. The sad, sad decline of newspapers was right at the top of the trunk. And happily, Matt felt like a lot of the journalists I knew, including myself, a smart-ass underachiever. At the time, dozens of former colleagues and friends were losing their newspaper jobs and it felt right to me, and seemed to make the book larger, part of this seismic cultural shift, to give Matt a dying career that it would have been impossible to imagine our culture without a few years ago. Being a...[read on]
Jess Walter's Citizen Vince was Nick Hornby's favorite novel of 2006.

--Marshal Zeringue