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23 books of Jess Walter

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; . . .

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Darkly hilarious and unexpectedly profound, "Citizen Vince" is an irresistible tale about the price of freedom and the mystery of salvation, by an emerging writer of boundless talent. Eight days before the 1980 presidential election, Vince Camden wakes up at 1: 59 A.­M. in a quiet house in Spokane, Washington. Pocketing his stash of stolen credit cards, he drops by an all-­night poker game before heading to his witness-­protection job dusting crullers at Donut Make You Hungry. This is the sum of Vince's new life: donuts and forged credit cards--­not to mention a neurotic hooker girlfriend.­But when a familiar face shows up in town, Vince realizes that his sordid past is still close behind him. During the next unforgettable week, on the run from Spokane to New York, Vince Camden will negotiate a maze of obsessive cops, eager politicians, and assorted mobsters, only to find that redemption might just exist--­of all places--­in the voting booth. Sharp and refreshing, Citizen Vince is the . . .

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, the first collection of short fiction from 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.

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What's left of a place when you take the ground away?
Answer: The Zero.
Brian Remy has no idea how he got here. It’s been only five days since his city was attacked, and Remy is experiencing gaps in his life – as if he were a stone skipping across water. He has a self-­inflicted gunshot wound he doesn’t remember inflicting. His son wears a black armband and refuses to acknowledge that Remy is still alive. He seems to be going blind. He has a beautiful new girlfriend whose name he doesn’t know. And his old partner in the police department, who may well be the only person crazier than Remy, has just gotten his picture on a box of First Responder cereal.
And these are the good things in Brian Remy’s life. While smoke still hangs over the city, Remy is recruited by a mysterious government agency that is assigned to gather all of the paper that was scattered in the attacks. As he slowly begins to realize that he’s working for a shadowy operation, Remy stumbles across a dangerous . . .

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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 . . .

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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.

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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, speaks to the bonds and compromises we make as children—and to the fatal errors we can make at any time.

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The acclaimed, award-­winning author of the national bestseller The Financial Lives of the Poets returns with his funniest, most romantic, and most purely enjoyable novel yet. Hailed by critics and loved by readers of literary and historical fiction, Beautiful Ruins is the story of an almost-­love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962...­and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later.

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Books of Jess Walter