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POSITIVELY FIFTH STREET.

McManus, James.

ISBN 10: 0340829699 / ISBN 13: 9780340829691
Published by FARRAR, STRAUS & GIROUX., 2003
Used Condition: Fine Hardcover
From WAVERLEY BOOKS ABAA (Santa Monica, CA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Fine in a fine dj. An entertaining look at Binion's World Series of Poker. Bookseller Inventory # 28618

Bibliographic Details

Title: POSITIVELY FIFTH STREET.

Publisher: FARRAR, STRAUS & GIROUX.

Publication Date: 2003

Binding: Cloth

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

Rough sex, black magic, and the science--and eros--of gambling.

Meet in the ultimate book about Las Vegas.

James McManus was sent to Las Vegas by Harper’s to cover the World Series of Poker in 2000, especially the mushrooming progress of women in the $23-million event, and the murder of Ted Binion, the tournament’s prodigal host, purportedly done in by a stripper and her boyfriend with a technique so outré it took a Manhattan pathologist to identify it. Whether a jury would convict the attractive young couple was another story altogether.

McManus risks his entire Harper’s advance in a long-shot attempt to play in the tournament himself. Only with actual table experience, he tells his skeptical wife, can he capture the hair-raising brand of poker that determines the world champion. The heart of the book is his deliciously suspenseful account of the tournament itself--the players, the hand-to-hand, and his own unlikely progress in it.

Written in the tradition of The Gambler and The Biggest Game in Town, Positively Fifth Street is a high-stakes adventure, a penetrating study of America’s card game, and a terrifying but often hilarious account of one man’s effort to understand what Edward O. Wilson has called "Pleistocene exigencies"--the eros and logistics of our primary competitive instincts.

Review:

In 2000, novelist and poet James McManus was sent to Las Vegas, innocently enough, by Harper's magazine to write a story about the World Series of Poker held annually at Binion's Horseshoe. But then, as so often happens on trips to Sin City, something kind of ... happened. Rather than becoming an objective report, McManus's article evolved into a memoir as he put his entire advance on the line, got lucky with his cards and won a spot in the competition, and came much closer than anyone expected to winning the darn thing. The result, Positively Fifth Street, is just as dazzling, exciting, and disturbing as Vegas itself.

McManus details his battles not only against his opponents but also against "Bad Jim," the portion of his own personality that needs to get in on a poker game in spite of both common and fiscal sense. Besides telling his own story, he relates the considerably more unpleasant tale of Ted Binion, whose grisly death was blamed on Binion's former stripper-girlfriend and her ex-linebacker beau. In the hands of a lesser author, the pursuit of these separate through lines of poker and the seedy personal lives of wealthy casino heirs may have lead readers to wish the author had picked just one subject. But under McManus's careful watch, they're really pretty similar: steeped in adrenaline, mystery, deception, and skating on thrillingly thin ice. Each story underscores the other, a neat little "narrative as metaphor" device, while also painting a vivid picture of Vegas casino life. Poker, as anyone who has lost at it will tell you, is an intricate game and it's nice to see a top-notch author and player relate its finer points in an entertaining style that will appeal even to non-players. The author's hilariously self-aware and at times self-loathing style make Positively Fifth Street a fun read. But beyond that, his account of nearly winning the biggest poker tournament in the world and subsequently watching as the verdicts are announced for Binion's accused murderers makes for a great story. Even if it wasn't the one he was sent there to write. --John Moe

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