Here it is. If you read one book in 2010, make it this one.
Seriously, I cannot think of a better book to start this decade with. It's certainly timely, as the main character Matt is dealing with the fallout from a protracted recession (a failed business venture, a house going into foreclosure, a layoff, and debt up the whazoo), plus a wife who spends her evenings online flirting (and then some) with a high school flame, Friended via Facebook.
The talent that is author Jess Walter takes the depressing recessionary times we live in and makes it absolutely hilarious. One of my blogger friends mentioned that her favorite type of writing is "dead-on and irreverent" - mine too - and that, my friends, is the essence of The Financial Lives of the Poets. It is, quite simply, among the most brilliant and funniest novels I've read.
It's such a great feeling to know that your first read of the year is so good that it will, without a doubt, make your Best-Of the Year list 362 days from now.
This was due back to the library late last year - no renews allowed, as someone else is trying to pry it out of my hands - but I don't care. I'm spending this first weekend of the New Year (and new decade) with my newest literary crush, Jess Walter, and gladly paying the price of increasing overdue fines, a messy house, and a husband who doesn't quite understand what I find so hilarious about this book's premise.
My resolution is to get him to read this.
And you too.
In other reading news, I ended the year with Colm Toibin's Brooklyn - literally reading right up until 11:30 p.m., because I have this thing about not being able to be in the middle of a book as one year ends and another begins. (The Dean thinks I'm nuts, but a perusal of other book bloggers shows that I am very much in the norm with this Rule of Life. Right? Right?)
People either love Brooklyn or are lukewarm about it. I'm in the latter camp. As much as I was looking forward to reading this and wanted to like it, it didn't do much for me. It's been described as a quiet and gentle novel, with a very straightforward story, and indeed it is all of those things. I'll have a full review up later this week.
For books like this that I'm only lukewarm about - or don't like - I'm toying with the idea of not doing a full review and instead discussing them briefly during that week's Sunday Salon. While writing the review for Brooklyn, it struck me that I wasn't all that into writing a review for a lukewarm book, and that perhaps I could spend that hour writing something else (like my NaNoWriMo novel) or reading.
In other bookish news, I treated myself to a few books at Barnes & Noble this weekend - namely, Orlando and The Waves for the upcoming Woolf in Winter read-a-long. I own Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, but I haven't seen these at any of the library branches I frequent. I'm not sure if I am going to get to Mrs. Dalloway in time, but it's a re-read for me because I read it in college.
I also bought Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, as well as America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins. I'm planning to read these for the Women Unbound challenge.
Now, I'm off to fulfill my resolution for the day: to right the balance sheet of my life by spending some clandestine time with Jess Walter and The Financial Lives of the Poets.
(Psssst ... have I mentioned that you should do the same?)