Rich Fischer is a man struggling with life. Once a popular and celebrated graphic artist, now he spends his days drawing illustrations for a news magazine. Once very happy in his marriage, now he vacillates between his dedication to his wife and two young children and his feelings for his lover. Once a man devoted to his art, now he wallows in self-pity and mediocrity in his work. Once a man on a golden road to financial and popular success, now he struggles to pay the bills every month.
All of Rich's feelings come spilling out during the week he spends at a summer arts conference where he teaches semi-autobiographical comics to young artists, dilettantes, and hippies. The arts conference draws a large cross section of artists from music, theater, writing, and fine art, so there is quite the collection of quirky and eclectic personalities surrounding him as he struggles with the weight of all his midlife questions and regrets, of his ennui and his entropy.
Also at the conference is the girlfriend he met last year, a painter named Amy, who returned just to see him again. A year's worth of emails and sexting just wasn't enough, and while Rich wants to be a good and upstanding husband, Amy's strength and vulnerability draws him to her. Amy's billionaire husband is cruel to her, and Rich wants to make things right, but he can't even make things right for his own wife.
Alternatively embarrassingly funny and heart-achingly sad, Matthew Klam's Who Is Rich? is a look at what it means to be an artist, at what it takes to be true to yourself in a relationship, at what it means to sell your gift in exchange for a steady paycheck, however small it may be. It's a weird and warped look at art, money, marriage, parenthood, love, lust, and self-respect that will stay with you long after you finish that last page. Who Is Rich? takes a deep dive at the thoughts of one man, but it leaves us wondering, who is any of us, really?
Galleys for Who Is Rich? were provided by Random House through NetGalley.com, with many thanks.