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The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying. And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot-searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier. What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives. From the lavish set of Cleopatra to the shabby revelry of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walter introduces us to the tangled lives of a dozen unforgettable characters: the starstruck Italian innkeeper and his long-lost love; the heroically preserved producer who once brought them together and his idealistic young assistant; the army veteran turned fledgling novelist and the rakish Richard Burton himself, whose appetites set the whole story in motion-along with the husbands and wives, lovers and dreamers, superstars and losers, who populate their world in the decades that follow. Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.
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.
Meet Matt Prior. He's about to lose his job, his wife, his house, maybe his mind. Unless . . . In the winning and utterly original novels Citizen Vince and The Zero, Jess Walter ("a ridiculously talented writer"-New York Times) painted an America all his own: a land of real, flawed, and deeply human characters coping with the anxieties of their times. Now, in his warmest, funniest, and best novel yet, Walter 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. Is this really how things were supposed to end up for me, he wonders: staying up all night worried, driving to 7-Eleven in the middle of the night to get milk for his boys, and falling in with two local degenerates after they offer him a hit of high-grade marijuana? Or, he thinks, could this be the solution to all my problems? 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. Includes an excerpt from Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins.
New Writing from Harper Perennial
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. Fiendishly clever and darkly funny, Land of the Blind speaks to the bonds and compromises we make as children--and to the fatal errors we can make at any time.
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. Rich with the darkly muted colors of the Pacific Northwest skies, Over Tumbled Graves established Jess Walter as a novelist of extraordinary emotional depth and dimension.
On the last hot day of summer in 1992, gunfire cracked over a rocky knob in northern Idaho, just south of the Canadian border. By the next day three people were dead, and a small war was joined, pitting the full might of federal law enforcement against one well-armed family. Drawing on extensive interviews with Randy Weaver's family, government insiders, and others, Jess Walter traces the paths that led the Weavers to their confrontation with federal agents and led the government to treat a family like a gang of criminals. This is the story of what happened on Ruby Ridge: the tragic and unlikely series of events that destroyed a family, brought down the number-two man in the FBI, and left in its wake a nation increasingly attuned to the dangers of unchecked federal power.
We Live in Water, the first collection of short fiction from New York Times bestselling author Jess Walter, is a suite of diverse, often comic stories about personal struggle and diminished dreams, all of them marked by the wry wit and generosity of spirit that has made him one of our most talked-about writers. In "Thief," a blue-collar worker turns unlikely detective to find out which of his kids is stealing from the family vacation fund. In "We Live in Water," a lawyer returns to a corrupt North Idaho town to find the father who disappeared thirty years earlier. In "Anything Helps," a homeless man has to "go to cardboard" to raise enough money to buy his son the new Harry Potter book. In "Virgo," a local newspaper editor tries to get back at his superstitious ex-girlfriend by screwing with her horoscope. And the collection's final story transforms slyly from a portrait of Walter's hometown into a moving contemplation of our times.
The Zero is a groundbreaking novel, a darkly comic snapshot of our times that is already being compared to the works of Franz Kafka and Joseph Heller. 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. From a novelist of astounding talent, The Zero is an extraordinary story of how our trials become our transgressions, of how we forgive ourselves and whether or not we should.
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