Double Down: Reflections on Gambling and Loss by Frederick Barthelme, Steven Barthelme

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Double Down: Reflections on Gambling and Loss

'“For the Barthelmes [Double Down] suggests the dual downward spiral they suffered in losing so much money and their parents in a short span of time. They relate both stories in a style so seamless that it’s hard to tell you are reading a collaboration.” —The New York Times   “The Barthelmes recount in vivid detail and with good psychological insight the trauma of coping with that dual loss.” —The Washington Post   “Double Down is an astounding book—lucid and hypnotic. I read it as if witnessing a not-so-small miracle in which a fall from grace is inverted, mid-air, and turned into a fall toward grace. It is clean and crisp and important.” —Rick Bass   “Whoever invented gambling knew something about human nature the rest of us have to keep rediscovering. Double Down is a gripping read.” —Larry Brown   “Frederick and Steven Barthelme have written one of the great books on gambling—a memoir of guilt, frustration, the wickedness of American justice, and, above all, the hair-raising rush of the action.” —Thom Jones   “I really enjoyed Double Down—I loved going along vicariously into the world of casinos. The Barthelme brothers write in a remarkably unified voice, and I was especially intrigued and moved by their analysis of themselves as grown-up children because they are childless. It’s a very compelling narrative.” —Bobbie Ann Mason   “Double Down is a good gambling story, maybe worth every penny the Barthelmes lost.” —Chicago Tribune   “The tale they have to tell is far more richly complicated—and haunting—than any their lawyer could present . . . By turns dazzingly canny and achingly abject, the Barthelmes, who write in a single voice, lure the reader into the intimacy of their self-deception.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review   “[Double Down] is an exquisitely crafted memoir . . . It is distinguished from the raft of recent addiction tales not just by the quality of its prose but also by a bizarre turn that landed the brothers in the headlines and in the maw of the Mississippi judicial system.” —The Wall Street Journal   “Their redemption is the book itself, in which shell shock is transfigured by literary grace.” —Newsweek   “This is a book about gambling, written in tandem by the Barthelme brothers, Frederick and Steven, academics and writers, telling of actual events. It also, on the way, talks perceptively and sometimes brilliantly of life, death, family, hope and despair, and money as an expression of these things. It is extremely melancholy and very, very disturbing. What the Barthelme brothers do in excess, in casinos, we all do a little in our daily lives, testing fate, pushing luck: falling in love with the wrong person, walking out of a job, in denial of reality. Bound to lose, but what the hell? And all somehow linked to the necessary defiance of death.” —The Observer   “‘Gambling is of course a very expensive way to beat reason,’ write Frederick and Steven Barthelme in Double Down, their superb (and horrifying) memoir of a betting spree. ‘You can get pretty much the same thing by staying awake for a night and day.’ Better they should have stayed awake for a night and day, and skipped the casinos. Their bad run lasted two years and resulted in losses greater than a quarter of a million dollars. . . . This is no mere cautionary tale. It’s a brutally candid, unflattering self-portrait if two successful middle-aged men (Rick, 55, has published 11 books of fiction, including—ironically enough—1997’s Bob the Gambler, and Steve, 52, published a well-reviewed collection of short stories, And He Tells the Little Horse the Whole Story, in 1987) who managed, somehow to sail through their adulthood behaving as ‘overage children.’ Driving to casinos, we’re told, they felt like ‘kids again, making a fort or throwing a football around in the backyard, building something in the bedroom with Lincoln Logs.’ Double Down is also an unsentimental, even edgy meditation on the loss of one’s parents and the often crazy-making trauma of being orphaned in midlife. After both their mother and father died within a period of 18 months, the brothers Barthelme were suddenly on their own ‘in a remarkable new way, and we were not ready.’ But to their credit, they blame no one but themselves for their ill-preparedness. Astounded—though not particularly abashed—by their disastrous gambling careers, they nevertheless take full responsibility for it and accept the consequences. Just as any real grown-ups would do.” —Entertainment Weekly   “What Double Down teaches that other memoirs don’t—preoccupied, as they tend to be, with the triumph of the individual—is that while we’re busy playing at life, life is playing with us as well. And, like the casinos, it always has an edge.” —New York magazine   “What gives their beautifully written book its power are the same gifts that distinguish the Barthelmes’ fiction: their intelligence, their eye for detail, and their wry bemusement at the unlucky, unlikely hands that life so often deals.” —Elle'
'“For the Barthelmes [Double Down] suggests the dual downward spiral they suffered in losing so much money and their parents in a short span of time. They relate both stories in a style so seamless that it’s hard to tell you are reading a collaboration.” —The New York Times   “The Barthelmes recount in vivid detail and with good psychological insight the trauma of coping with that dual loss.” —The Washington Post   “Double Down is an astounding book—lucid and hypnotic. I read it as if witnessing a not-so-small miracle in which a fall from grace is inverted, mid-air, and turned into a fall toward grace. It is clean and crisp and important.” —Rick Bass   “Whoever invented gambling knew something about human nature the rest of us have to keep rediscovering. Double Down is a gripping read.” —Larry Brown   “Frederick and Steven Barthelme have written one of the great books on gambling—a memoir of guilt, frustration, the wickedness of American justice, and, above all, the hair-raising rush of the action.” —Thom Jones   “I really enjoyed Double Down—I loved going along vicariously into the world of casinos. The Barthelme brothers write in a remarkably unified voice, and I was especially intrigued and moved by their analysis of themselves as grown-up children because they are childless. It’s a very compelling narrative.” —Bobbie Ann Mason   “Double Down is a good gambling story, maybe worth every penny the Barthelmes lost.” —Chicago Tribune   “The tale they have to tell is far more richly complicated—and haunting—than any their lawyer could present . . . By turns dazzingly canny and achingly abject, the Barthelmes, who write in a single voice, lure the reader into the intimacy of their self-deception.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review   “[Double Down] is an exquisitely crafted memoir . . . It is distinguished from the raft of recent addiction tales not just by the quality of its prose but also by a bizarre turn that landed the brothers in the headlines and in the maw of the Mississippi judicial system.” —The Wall Street Journal   “Their redemption is the book itself, in which shell shock is transfigured by literary grace.” —Newsweek   “This is a book about gambling, written in tandem by the Barthelme brothers, Frederick and Steven, academics and writers, telling of actual events. It also, on the way, talks perceptively and sometimes brilliantly of life, death, family, hope and despair, and money as an expression of these things. It is extremely melancholy and very, very disturbing. What the Barthelme brothers do in excess, in casinos, we all do a little in our daily lives, testing fate, pushing luck: falling in love with the wrong person, walking out of a job, in denial of reality. Bound to lose, but what the hell? And all somehow linked to the necessary defiance of death.” —The Observer   “‘Gambling is of course a very expensive way to beat reason,’ write Frederick and Steven Barthelme in Double Down, their superb (and horrifying) memoir of a betting spree. ‘You can get pretty much the same thing by staying awake for a night and day.’ Better they should have stayed awake for a night and day, and skipped the casinos. Their bad run lasted two years and resulted in losses greater than a quarter of a million dollars. . . . This is no mere cautionary tale. It’s a brutally candid, unflattering self-portrait if two successful middle-aged men (Rick, 55, has published 11 books of fiction, including—ironically enough—1997’s Bob the Gambler, and Steve, 52, published a well-reviewed collection of short stories, And He Tells the Little Horse the Whole Story, in 1987) who managed, somehow to sail through their adulthood behaving as ‘overage children.’ Driving to casinos, we’re told, they felt like ‘kids again, making a fort or throwing a football around in the backyard, building something in the bedroom with Lincoln Logs.’ Double Down is also an unsentimental, even edgy meditation on the loss of one’s parents and the often crazy-making trauma of being orphaned in midlife. After both their mother and father died within a period of 18 months, the brothers Barthelme were suddenly on their own ‘in a remarkable new way, and we were not ready.’ But to their credit, they blame no one but themselves for their ill-preparedness. Astounded—though not particularly abashed—by their disastrous gambling careers, they nevertheless take full responsibility for it and accept the consequences. Just as any real grown-ups would do.” —Entertainment Weekly   “What Double Down teaches that other memoirs don’t—preoccupied, as they tend to be, with the triumph of the individual—is that while we’re busy playing at life, life is playing with us as well. And, like the casinos, it always has an edge.” —New York magazine   “What gives their beautifully written book its power are the same gifts that distinguish the Barthelmes’ fiction: their intelligence, their eye for detail, and their wry bemusement at the unlucky, unlikely hands that life so often deals.” —Elle'
Publisher: Mariner Books ISBN: 9780547959351 Pages: 208