Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam

Who Is Rich?

Matthew Klam

An unforgettable tale of love and adultery by the critically acclaimed author of Sam the Cat.

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A provocative satire of love, sex, money, and politics that unfolds over four wild days in so-called “paradise”—the long-awaited first novel from the acclaimed author of Sam the Cat

“I seriously, deeply love this book.”—Michael Cunningham


Every summer, a once-sort-of-famous cartoonist named Rich Fischer leaves his wife and two kids behind to teach a class at a weeklong arts conference in a charming New England beachside town. It’s a place where, every year, students—nature poets and driftwood sculptors, widowed seniors, teenagers away from home for the first time—show up to study with an esteemed faculty made up of prizewinning playwrights, actors, and historians; drunkards and perverts; members of the cultural elite; unknown nobodies, midlist somebodies, and legitimate stars—a place where drum circles happen on the beach at midnight, clothing optional.
Once more, Rich finds himself, in this seaside paradise, worrying about his family’s nights without him and trying not to think about his book, now out of print, or his future as an illustrator at a glossy magazine about to go under, or his back taxes, or the shameless shenanigans of his colleagues at this summer make-out festival. He can’t decide whether his own very real desire for love and human contact is going to rescue or destroy him.
A warped and exhilarating tale of love and lust, Who Is Rich? goes far beyond to address deeper questions: of family, monogamy, the intoxicating beauty of children, and the challenging interdependence of two soulful, sensitive creatures in a confusing domestic alliance.


“Funny, maddening . . . defiantly original . . . [Matthew] Klam’s prose is so clean, so self-assured, that it feels a little like a miracle.”The New York Times

“A dazzling meditation on monogamy [and] parenthood . . . full of sound and fury and signifying pretty much everything.”The Boston Globe

“Comic, wondrous, and sad.”The New Yorker

“Almost scarily astute.”People

“An electric amalgam of frustration and tenderness, wonder and rebellion: a paean to the obliterating power of parental love.”—Jennifer Egan

“A contemporary masterpiece.”Salon

Advance Galley Reviews

A hard book to get into and a story about a very real, but unhappy topic. Rich longs for a different life. He's in a rut in every aspect of his everyday life. One week a year he teaches an art class at a seminar by the sea. There he meets Amy who is as unhappy as Rich is. Together they try to help each other through what to me sounds like a mid-life crisis. No happy ending here.

A good book with excellent plot line and beautiful characters.

I did not finish this book.

2 stars I almost DNF this book. It was very slow pace and the characters were not likeable. This book didnt over all was a difficult one to get thru.

Attempted to read through this one and finally had to give up. Guess it was not really my style. Sorry!

“Who is Rich?” has all the hallmarks of a type of writing I dislike: the tortured and failing artist with the once promising career who is now foundering with self-doubt and is reacting in inappropriate ways. ‘Tis the stuff of cliché. Somehow Matthew Klam surmounts the problems inherent in the genre and succeeds in portraying the bewilderment of a man, Rob Fischer, who hasn’t lived up to his early promise in anyone’s eyes, including his own. The action takes place in one of those educational artistic conferences that seems to be the habitat of the semi-successful artist (note that I am not tarring all retreats, but there are enough of them out there to make this a valid observation). In a way, this book seems to be a male version of chick-lit, which is okay by me since I am a male who is unafraid to admit that he likes chick-lit. The shoe being on the other foot, however, leads me to suspect that many women will not be charmed with the portrayal of a man who turns to adultery, among other vices, in order to assuage his ennui. As a man, however, it helped me put my own attempts in self-pity into relief. Funny, touching, and sad at times, this is a book worth reading. Klam is a gifted writer who prose does not fall into the realm of cliché which you might expect given the books premise. Problems in the text are not serious. The female main character, Amy, is perhaps not as well drawn as Rob, but her failings are just as realistic in their own way as the protagonist. Rob’s wife is given somewhat short shrift in the narrative department, but I very definitely have met women like her. There is not a strong plot in the traditional sense since this is more of a character study. However, most people struggle in life to some extent and Klam manages to give beautiful life to the odd moments which engage us all in between our triumphs.

I found this a tough book to read and even tougher to enjoy. The main character is generally unlikeable, so I couldn't begin to care about his choices or the outcome. Self indulgent, meandering story that's best bypassed.

After reading the blurb, I was really expecting something different, a little lighter, not nearly as deep as this turned out to be. Who is Rich, is a first person account novel of a marriage and career in question. I was pleasantly surprised by this novel although I really must say it was a difficult read. It started out slow at first and I had my doubts, but I hung in there. It incorporates everything a reader could ask for in a captivating way, and that is hard to do. The author pulled off a story that is both bittersweet and funny. It addresses marriage, adultery, (flailing) careers and everything in between. Pulling no punches, this book is about things desired, chased, forgotten and lost. Looking for answers, not really finding them, just bandaids on the wounds of day to day life, the things regular people face daily.

I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It is the story of a marriage, a career that might be dying a slow death, a man that feels for his family and yet is still trying to find himself. I could identify in so many ways with Rich Fischer, not always in a comfortable way, but always in a way that made me think in a different way.

Who is Rich? offers an interesting perspective of a man at a crossroads of his family, his career, and his life as a whole. The title posits an important question, one we must all ask ourselves at some point. A fascinating premise, this book did not immediately grab me, although as a comics fan, I was very intrigued by the occupation of the main character. That being said, he was slightly too pessimistic for me.

There are many entertaining sections in this book and I really liked the illustrations along the way but overall the character is so relentlessly downbeat and introspective that it becomes hard work to read rather than a pleasure despite the blackly comic tone.

Honestly, I am struggling with this book. Mind you, I haven't given up on it yet, but it just hasn't grabbed me in the, 'I have to stop doing everything else in life to read this' way, that a truly great book does. I suppose part of the problem is I'm not used to reading the male POV, so it is good to try and branch out. I will keep trying to get more engaged....

Who Is Rich? I have to be honest, this book was not for me. I tried to read it and give it a chance as the writing was quite well done. Matthew Klam has a way with spinning a yarn. I know I will have to read more of his work. However, I am not sure if it was the bouncing back and forth between Rich's memories between his relationship with his wife or the affair with Amy, that I just couldn't stomach the subject matter. I am not often approached to read adulatory stories. The love Rich has for his for children was heartwarming. His desire to feel needed, vaguely familiar as emotions I have seen with family members who has strayed from their spouse, and his lust for physicality was just heartbreaking to me. I am not sure if it is best to a couple to stay together just because of the kids as both Rich and Amy do in their prospective marriages. It was too sad for me to rate the book more than a 3. I felt as I was reading the book that Rich ponders over the same issues over, and over again in the matter of a space of 96 hours that he is becoming pandantic and pathetic. He definitely was not type of man. Maybe this book goes over better when a guy reads it? Sorry. I really wanted to like it, I just didn't. Thank you First Reads for giving me a chance to read and review this book.

Thank you First to read for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book litterally hurt to read. Its a good pain, its one of those books that make you reflect on your own life. The author is married for 12 years and is in a fix whether to get involved in an adulterous relationship, or to work on his disastrous marriage. I too am married and I read from the husbands POV, how the birthing and toddler years that consume mothers, effect fathers. I also saw how deeply the narrator loves his kids. How we swings between going for what his heart wants, and restraining for his kids. I wanted to work on my marriage more and tell my spouse I love him, after I read about the pains of bad marriages. Overall a book I hated and loved. i couldnt put it down. Rating-4 stars for the lovely writing.

Unfortunately I tried to read this book several times and just couldn't get into it. Thank you First to Read for the opportunity to read this book however it wasn't for me.

Matthew Klam’s Who Is Rich? might just be the best—if not only—love affair I have all summer. Here we follow the story of Rich, an older, middle-aged cartoonist now sitting on the other side of his fifteen minutes. While teaching a class at a New England conference, with other artists who have become pseudo-academics for a week, he ventures deeper into his affair with a very wealthy woman, Amy. And while this story could have easily become a story shaded numerous hues of gray, Rich’s affair with Amy, the wife of a multi-millionaire, finds other ways to pique its readers’ interests. Klam offers his readers the brutal honesty of a love affair. Rich and Amy’s time together isn’t perfect, isn’t polished with the glow of good lighting and a great cinematographer, but it is their own and what they need at this particular juncture of their lives. We, as an audience, leave the novel knowing their affair will become something they romanticize in the years to come—or, at least, something that Rich will work on romanticizing shortly thereafter. And like any affair, the question of, What does a person hope to gain, find, or potentially lose by the end of it? is something Klam explores throughout the novel with ingenious wit, elegant prose, and a feeling of true contemporary fervor that renders his reference to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” as one of the only instances in this novel that feels dated. Klam paints Rich to be a bitter, average, middle-aged man who isn’t the most intelligent protagonist I’ve ever encountered, yet feels unsettlingly recognizable. Rich’s commentary on his art and being an artist are some of the best, most humorous, honest moments sprinkled throughout the narrative and help endear him to us, as readers. And because Rich is so aware of the story he is telling himself about his love affair and his role in it, as well as his desire to create a comic from his experience and stage his comeback, the reader is then gifted a love affair so flawed and reckless it feels like a funny, sad, small house made of sea glass, set at the edge of the seashore, and held together with whole-hearted prayers that an incoming tide won’t get to it. 4.8/5

Perhaps it should be called GuyLit.... I may be in the minority with this one, but I really liked this book. To me, it was a very honest, funny, and well-written story of desire, guilt, and mid-life confusion. Kudos to Matthew Klam!

This book ... well, it was definitely not a favorite for me. I don't think there was a single thing I liked about this novel. I went for it because I thought it would be an interesting perspective on adultery and lust. Instead, I was stuck with a novel that had terrible characters and self-indulgent narratives. I hated Rich for being so whiny and selfish and horrible. I hated all of the other characters for the same reason. I liked the writing style but the story itself was seriously not great and I am struggling to think of even one good thing to say about it. This book was just not for me but maybe someone else will enjoy it more.

This book was not for me. In my opinion, this world doesn't need another book about a middle-aged, mediocre white man who struggles with his marriage, being a father, and his adultery. I liked the premise of the washed up cartoonist spending a few days teaching a course, but I gave up after 70 pages. The main character was self-absorbed and boring. I know many people face the same problems as the man character, but other stories deal with these issues in a much better way.

Sorry, but I didn't enjoy this book either. Never did understand the tale enough to find it "unforgettable". Confused and confusing, clunky at times, felt cobbled together. Such a great idea for a novel. But this book doesn't deliver. Sorry.

A bit too one-note for my taste. I just feel like this story has been told so many times before. That said, the writing is strong, and if the story sounds like one that appeals to you, it's well told.

I was tired of Rich's problems before he finished telling them. I just don't have much room in my heart for white men spinning out over problems of their own making. But Klam is a charismatic writer (if somewhat overfond of list-like sentences), and Rich maintained my interest with his wry introspection. His reeling from big-hearted tenderness to casual cruelty had the ring of human truth but weren't much fun to read about.

This book started off interesting about a one-hit cartoonist who has since had an affair, considered suicide, spent an entire semester of his daughter's tuition on one bracelet for his mistress, and generally become a self-centered, impulsive man. I found him less likeable as the book went on.

I received ed this book in exchange for an honest review. I was looking forward to reading it based on the brief synopsis and advance praise. It disappointed. I had to make myself finish it and even then all I could think was "That's it?" It felt painful to read at times because of the periods of self-loathing the main character has. What was supposed to be a reprieve and motivational conference for this individual turned into a no-holds-barred-free-for-all. It showed the weakness of his character and lack of integrity. There were life lessons between the lines, and periods of revelation, but there was nothing new and these were too obscured by the overarching flaws of the character and his actions to be important. The main character is a selfish, "it's all about me", non-appreciative, ungrateful individual that you stop feeling sorry for by mid-book, and despise by the end just because the story isn't long enough for karma to intervene. I would not recommend it.

I struggled with this book. My first response to Who is Rich? Rich is an asshole. I wanted to give up on this book so many times because the main character is so completely unlikable. I almost didn't make it past the first 20 pages because he came off as a sexist, selfish asshole who seriously needs to get over himself. But I trudged on and Rich's rants get a little more soft-edged, more introspective, more self-critical. Rich is a middle-aged cartoonist, married with two young children. He's unhappy. Well, more, he's stuck. And he goes to his annual writer's workshop/conference where he teaches to get away from his family. He seems to be a work at home dad, and his wife, who works in television, is usually the one away on business while he deals with the kids. And this is his chance to get away and have some me time. He finds himself at a crossroads in his life, career changing/dwindling, marriage stagnating, stuck in a rut. So he does the guy thing and cheats on his wife. I wanted, I tried, to enjoy reading this, but I just couldn't. It's a book about a middle-aged white guy and he's not a man's man, and he's not suffering from testosterone poisoning, and he thinks, and he questions himself, which are all good things. And there are times when this book is beautiful, and spare, yet abundant. Ultimately, though, I struggled through it and I'm struggling to find a positive outcome of having read it.

This was a somewhat difficult book; took me far longer to read than my usual pace. I actually had to force myself to continue it after about 50% and kept waiting to turn to the final page. When I finally did reach the end I was unsatisfied by the lack of any resolution to "Who is Rich?". After slogging through pages of somewhat repetitive introspection of the narrator I was hoping to discover what his mid-life crises had taught him. Not my cup of tea.

I was truly fascinated by the promised subject matter and the writing style, however the book just did not speak to me as a reader. I think when we get to a certain age, we start comparing ourselves to others to derive whether we are a success, or not. We want to know that we are keeping up with others. We want to know whether we are really happy. I did not come up with any ideas, however I did have lots of good belly laughs.

I received this book for free from First to Read. Unfortunately, this book did not connect with me. I did not find the characters interesting or likeable. The non-linear nature of this story made the flow choppy, making me even less invested in the tale. I did enjoy the drawings scattered throughout.

I got this book free from First to Read for an honest review. I liked the idea of this book/plot but not the reality of it. The main character is unlikable and whiney. It just wasn't for me.

I'm giving this book a 1.75 out of 5 stars with the extra .75 because it was well written and I did like hearing a male POV which is different from the books I normally read. I was really excited when I received this ARC but about 30% in it was hard to finish. To say this is not my normal read is a big understatement. Rich was a selfish creep of a cheater who continued to complicate his life and truly Amy and Robin weren't much better. This was a hard book for me to read and too much longer than it normally takes to read a book but the characters and plot line were hard for me to really get into it. If you into introspective narratives this ones for you. Me? Not so much.

Klam is a great writer! I loved his lists of particularities and idiosyncrasies that create vivid characters, settings, situations. He pokes fun at everyone (the rich, the poor, the old, the young, the winners, the losers.) exposing their absurdities and insecurities. But he is forgiving and generous, too. I Am Rich, however, was kind of a drag. Maybe it's because I am middle-aged myself but reading about a middle-age man who is burdened by marriage, fatherhood, artistic stagnation, and finances was not exactly enjoyable. The book spans his yearly escape to teach a class at an artistic conference in Maine. In this idyllic setting, he mingles with other artists (some more/less successful), attends soirees at obscene beachfront mansions, resumes his affair with a zillionaire's wife, and ponders his life. He makes bad decisions that made me cringe. And, I found his mood swings between euphoria, despair, contrition, and sadness to be tiresome. I was relieved when the book was over. I do think the ending is well done. And adds to my respect for Klam’s writing. What could have been overblown or simplified showed restraint and an uncomfortable but believable lack resolution. That felt right. Middle age is not something that can be “resolved” but Rich has learned something, maybe. Overall, I would describe this as a book I appreciated but didn’t really enjoy.

I just finished reading Who is Rich? by Matthew Klam, and overall I really enjoyed this novel. It was not a normal, everyday read, but a complex glimpse into the life of a married, middle-aged Cartoonist named Rich. Rich and his wife Robin do not have a very warm and fuzzy marriage, they struggle financially, have two small children, and basically tolerate one another day to day. However, it’s time for his once a year art conference where he holds cartooning workshops in a small beach town. This also means that he will see Amy, a super rich, unhappy wife and mother whom he has been intimate with before, as well as, carrying on communication with over the past year. This novel is told entirely from Rich’s point of view which I liked, but sometimes his thoughts or feelings wandered a bit too far away for me. Rich is obviously a very devoted father but is cynical about life in general. He struggles over his career not becoming what he had hoped, he feels slighted and beaten down by Robin (rightfully so), and appears completely confused about his ever-changing feelings, or lack thereof, for Amy. I love the honest exploration into Rich’s life and feelings about who he is, but there were also times it bordered on a pity-party. Money was a huge player in this novel, not only because he struggled with making and responsibly spending money, but also Amy’s enormous wealth as compared to his own. On one hand he wanted her to rescue him financially, but on the other hand, he refused any financial help and felt certain they could never really co-exist as a couple because of her wealth. I was torn throughout the entire novel as to whether Rich and Amy had any genuine feelings for one another, but I’m inclined towards it just being an escape and a moment to connect with someone. Sex seemed to make them both happy then sad then happy then sad again. It was almost as if they each gave too much power to sexual acts, expecting miracles from it, but instead felt dirty and disappointed in themselves afterwards. My hopes are that by the end of the novel, Rich came to realize his own enormous because of his two children, but I’m not sure because there was still the joy-sucking wife of his that was consistently uncaring and bitter. Rich also seemed to struggle with other social relationships, frequently replacing conversation with sarcasm and rhetorical questions, but this also prevented him from really looking at himself and the choices that he has made. Matthew Klam’s writing was beautiful, detailed, and honest. He truly provided a window into Rich’s soul and revealed so much about this man who so often doubted himself and others. I can’t say it left me feeling happy with my spirits lifted, but I appreciated the overall themes of his internal and external struggles. Rich is not a character that I will soon forget and I am rooting for him to enjoy a happier life! *Thanks to First to Read and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Funny was, that when I told my husband I could read the book in advance - the first thing he said was: ohhh that's the author of Simon's Cat! I did choose the book by "just" reading the short discription of the book and then decided to give it a go. After my husband's comment I thought it would sure be better if I already know his work - Simon's Cat- that I already own and love. So, a few days ago I started to read the book. First of all I really liked the little drawing in the beginning of the book and also the cover is very much appealing. But I had really a very hard time go get into the story. The writing is to me was very good, but at first I expected a easier read. Also the fact to hear men having a career slump and complaining about is, was not very usual. All in one it wasn't a bad story but i can't rate the book higher, as it was not really what I expected and I really could not find sympathy with Rich.

Oh Boy..... Well. Ok. Um. This book was just.... not my type, but relatively good at certain points. After reading this book, I had to take time to grasp in my thoughts and how I would put my thoughts into words. I wish I could rate this book higher, but I just couldn't. This story contains a small message, but a whole lot of drama. Who is Rich? Rich is a 42 year old man who is unsatisfied with his life, family, and marriage. He used to be a famous cartoonist, but now a is broke with no fame. He has a wife who is angry all the time, two kids who he feels drain his creativity, and a mistress who has a husband with two kids. Rich teaches a cartoon class for four days every year in a convention where he see's his mistress Amy. Rich is lost out of his mind and does everything bad not realizing he is hurting his family. Rich spends the whole story making it about himself and being so self centered that drove me insane. This story was not really for me, but I liked a few parts of it. The ending took way to long and made me so uninterested that I skipped like a few chapters. I like that each character is flawed just like us humans are and even though we think we are happy about a certain thing that it can also be wrong for us too.


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