Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday Fiction: Jess Walter...

... An Author I Just Rediscovered In The Fiction Section

--by Hanje Richards

I was first exposed to Jess Walter several years ago when I read his non-fiction book on the incident at Ruby Ridge. Every Knee Shall Bow: The Truth and Tragedy of Ruby Ridge and the Randy Weaver Family (979.6 WALTER). This was a serious, well written, journalistic book about an American tragedy.

So, I was very surprised to open a box of books by this author which were all in the fiction and mystery genres. Jess Walter, who lives with his family in Spokane, Washington has used his true crime background to write some pretty entertaining and interesting fiction.

The Financial Lives of Poets (FIC WALTER FINANCIAL), Walter’s most recent novel, offers a story as real as our own lives: a tale of overstretched accounts, misbegotten schemes, and domestic dreams deferred.

A few years ago, small-time finance journalist Matthew Prior quit his day job to gamble everything on a quixotic notion: a Web site devoted to financial journalism in the form of blank verse. When his big idea — and his wife's eBay resale business — ends with a whimper (and a garage full of unwanted figurines), they borrow and borrow, whistling past the graveyard of their uncertain dreams. One morning, Matt wakes up to find himself jobless, hobbled with debt, spying on his wife's online flirtation, and six days away from losing his home.

Following Matt in his weeklong quest to save his marriage, his sanity, and his dreams, The Financial Lives of the Poets is a hysterical, heartfelt novel about how we can reach the edge of ruin — and how we can begin to make our way back.
Citizen Vince (MYS FIC WALTER CITIZEN): At 1:59 a.m. in Spokane, Washington — eight days before the 1980 presidential election — Vince Camden pockets his stash of stolen credit cards and drops by an all-night poker game before heading to his witness-protection job dusting crullers at "Donut Make You Hungry." Along with a neurotic hooker girlfriend, this is the total sum of Vince's new life. But when a familiar face shows up in town, Vince realizes his sordid past is still too close behind him. During the next unforgettable week, he'll negotiate a coast-to-coast maze of obsessive cops, eager politicians, and assorted mobsters — only to find that redemption might exist, of all places, in the voting booth.
Land of the Blind (MYS FIC WALTER LAND): While working the weekend night shift, Caroline Mabry, a weary Spokane police detective, encounters a seemingly unstable but charming derelict who tells her, "I'd like to confess." But he insists on writing out his statement in longhand. In the forty-eight hours that follow, the stranger confesses to not just a crime but an entire life — spinning a wry and haunting tale of youth and adulthood, of obsession and revenge, and of two men's intertwined lives.

Over Tumbled Graves (MYS FIC WALTER OVER): During a routine drug bust, on a narrow bridge over white-water falls in the center of town, Spokane detective Caroline Mabry finds herself face-to-face with a brutal murderer. Within hours, the body of a young prostitute is found on the riverbank nearby. What follows confronts our fascination with pathology and murder and stares it down, as Caroline and her cynical partner, Alan Dupree — thrown headlong into the search for a serial murderer who communicates by killing women — uncover some hard truths about their profession . . . and each other.

The Zero (FIC WALTER ZERO): From its opening pages — when hero cop Brian Remy wakes up to find he's shot himself in the head — novelist Jess Walter takes us on a harrowing tour of a city and a country shuddering through the aftershocks of a devastating terrorist attack.

As the smoke slowly clears, Remy finds that his memory is skipping, lurching between moments of lucidity and days when he doesn't seem to be living his own life at all. The landscape around him is at once fractured and oddly familiar: a world dominated by a Machiavellian mayor known as "The Boss" and peopled by gawking celebrities, anguished policemen peddling "First Responder" cereal, and pink real estate divas hyping the spoils of tragedy. Remy himself has a new girlfriend he doesn't know, a son who pretends he's dead, and an unsettling new job chasing a trail of paper scraps for a shadowy intelligence agency known as the Department of Documentation.

Whether that trail will lead Remy to an elusive terror cell — or send him circling back to himself — is only one of the questions posed by this provocative yet deeply human novel.

Check our Adult New Fiction section for these books and other newly-acquired fiction. And be sure to check our fiction stacks on the third floor for fiction from many other great authors.

As always, if the book you are looking for is checked out, the staff will be happy to put a hold on it so when it does become available, you will be notified.