The Noble Hustle by Colson Whitehead

Hey, hey guys! I’m being contemporary today! I’m writing a review for a book that I just finished reading. That’s right. Not a fantasy series I finished half a decade ago, or a beloved memoir/book on writing that I first read when I was twenty, but I book that I finished just. last. night. Aren’t you proud of me? I mean, sure, it was published a couple of years ago and isn’t in any way relevant to what’s going on in the world right now, not a part of the zeitgeist (blegh! Is there any way of using that word without sounding like a total dickhead? “Stop using the word zeitgeist, ya dickhead!” Found it). But, you know, baby steps and all that.

On to the review!

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it, and I think it’s pretty obvious why:

I do not give a shit about poker.

I get why some people are into it, the rush of the gamble or the math or the strategy, but I have never been interested in it and I never will be. Whenever Whitehead talked about any of the technical stuff behind poker, I could feel my attention starting to drift. I’ve never read anything about the game before (or played it even. See aforementioned disinterest), so I thought it might be neat to pick up a book about it and learn a little bit. This one got bonus points for being written by an author that I like, who’s got chops, who has something to say. Turns out I was wrong. I didn’t have a terrible time, but I didn’t have a great time, and I definitely didn’t retain any of the poker information he doled out throughout the course of the book. It held such little interest to me that it vanished, cheap Vegas magician style, as soon as I read it. In one eye and out the other.

But that’s not Whitehead’s fault! He’s great! His voice, his intelligence and his particular brand of self-deprecating humor, are what kept me going throughout this book. In any other hands a book like this would’ve been a total dud for me, but even when I was tapping my foot hoping the cards-y stuff would end soon, he would slip a joke in that genuinely made me smile. I like this dude a lot, and am excited to read some of his stuff that falls a little more within my wheelhouse (I’m coming for you Zone One). This one just wasn’t for me. And I’m okay with that. Not every book has to be.

Good for people who like poker, or maybe are interested in learning just a little about it, and those who love jokes about sadness and despair. Also jerky enthusiasts.

Ta ta for now 🙂


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