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Colson Whitehead is an Oprah-celebrity now, but even that cannot wipe away the man's lightning wit, droll persona, and shining intelligence. Forget the poker (although, as a non-poker player, I learned quite a bit I can use in my other endeavours), this is a hysterically funny investigation into the mind of the modern young-ish man (more US than UK, to be sure, but much crosses both ways). I laughed out loud on every page - heck, on just about every line. The man has more funny lines than the Panama registry of shipping. PS: If you have any interest in zombies, read his book ZONE ONE, the most intelligent, scary, gripping book ever written about the undead!
In2011 a magazine staked the author to a $10,000 entrance fee to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas in order to write about it.
Well, write about it he does, in a rambling, self indulgent style that tries to be clever but winds up being a pretentious bore. In a total of 235 pages, he doesn`t get around to playing in the tournament until page 177. The rest is taken up in describing his trips to Atlantic City to practice casino Texas Hold`em. which was really not the supposed point of the book.
For those who watch the Series on TV every year, there are some interesting facts and observations; too bad they couldn`t have been written in a straightforward manner.
This book is an absolute bore. Rambling go nowhere stories. The writer seems Hell-bent on turning his WSOP experience can into some weird philosophical journey. No real poker tales until are so late into the book that you have long since lost interest. Don't bother.
It's a mix of poker stories, the writer's life and some poker theory that he has learned. I like poker, but I don't play often - maybe 5 times a year. I'm not looking to get serious into the game, but it was still quite funny and interesting.
This is the worst poker book I've ever read. The author is in love with hating himself all while trying to cram in as many obscure literary references as possible (you see, because his life is crap but at least he's agonizingly clever). The writing is pretentious. The story is exhausting. The book is an absolute zero. Grantland should ask for their $10,000 back. What a waste.
The Noble Hustle falls somewhere in the middle between a book about poker and a book about the author's permanently blue soul, as well as, his experiences in and around Las Vegas. Speaking of the latter, at times it's a little much. The reader is journeying inside Colson's head, and that's a decidedly unsettling place to be most of the time. Occasionally I could relate. I think relation is key here. Those who don't care about poker won't like this book. Those who aren't the slightest bit depressed, existentially weird, or misanthropic won't care for it, either.
I wish there had been a little more on the poker coaching at the beginning and a little less about his younger self going to Vegas somewhere around the book's middle - that just seemed like filler. Did I get a sense of what the WSOP Main Event is like? Yes, I think so. It lacked certain Texas Hold'em details I was hoping for, but oh well.
All in all, I was pleased with The Noble Hustle. Will you be? It's hard to say...
Colson Whitehead does a great job of taking you inside the dreams of the normal, and more often, the abnormal, poker-playing American. I read the book because I heard the NPR segment about it, and my brother was headed to WSOP. It was a great crash course book to see how one person figured out what it does/doesn't take to get there and I saw many of the same tactics employed by my brother (consulting books/cheat sheets, supplementing 'the' game with other sit n' gos, etc). Overall, I liked Whitehead's snarky, sarcastic attitude, and I know I laughed out loud at a few times, but sometimes the writing style left me trailing off the book and thinking about other things or skimming ahead. Maybe it is a testament to him doing the same as he tackled this subject...trailing off, taking an aside, going back/forth in time. I do wish he had talked a bit more about his actual experience at WSOP and not the leading up to it and the afterward.
Colson Whitehead brings a careful eye and a wry sense of humor to the semi-glamorous world of professional poker. But the book started as a magazine article, and it still bears the marks. It reads like a "director's cut" -- all the parts that would usually be taken out for concision and focus are left in. This gives us some great profiles, some fun descriptions of his college road trips, and a bit of colorful commentary on the Nation of Anhedonia. But at times the narrative feels baggy and disorganized. On the whole, the journey was worth it. But at times, I wasn't sure.