What I'd always liked about Biloxi was the decay, the things falling apart, the crap along the beach, the skeletons of abandoned hotels, the trashy warehouses and the rundown piers jutting out into the dirty water, so I wasn't thrilled that in the last five years our dinky coast town had been turned into an outlet-mall version of Las Vegas, with a ...
What I'd always liked about Biloxi was the decay, the things falling apart, the crap along the beach, the skeletons of abandoned hotels, the trashy warehouses and the rundown piers jutting out into the dirty water, so I wasn't thrilled that in the last five years our dinky coast town had been turned into an outlet-mall version of Las Vegas, with a dozen cartoon casinos, lots of gussied-up Motel 6 hotel rooms, an ocean of slicked-back hair, and a big increase in unsavory tourists. On this Sunday, after the NFL preseason game, we were sitting on the porch quiet as mice when Jewel held up the newspaper and said, "Raymond. Let's go here and do this," and "here" was the Paradise casino, a dozen blocks away on the beach in Biloxi, and "this" was gambling. So begins this crackball love story with a wonderfully dark underbelly, in which Ray and Jewel Kaiser try out the Paradise. What curious thing happens to them, and how they react to this trick of chance - and through a procession of misadve
Publishers Weekly, 1997-08-25 Clear-sighted, decent Ray Kaiser narrates his sudden capitulation to the allure of Biloxi's Paradise Casino in Barthelme's (Moon Deluxe; Painted Desert) deftly comic and gently melancholic 11th book. Abandoning his unremunerative architecture firm (running Ray Kaiser Design "is kind of like being a pro bongo player"), he becomes intoxicated by the rituals and the heady promises of big payoffs at the blackjack tables and the slot machines: "It was a joy to see the money move at a sedate pace back and forth the table, as if it had a life of its own, or was reacting to my will, or the dealer's, or even the magic in the cards." His thoroughgoing investment in the casino prompts him to reevaluate everythingælooking askance at the architecture profession even as he takes jobs "a little south on the food chain.'' With bracing good humor and moral nuance, the novel makes this familiar tale fresh again: Ray is as much a husband and father as he is (in his stepdaughter's sardonic parlance) "Bob the Gambler." His relationships with her, his parents and his wife, Jewel, are beguiling and carefully delineated. The unpredictable and morally ambiguous outcome of the tug-of-war between these relationships and the casino distinguish this rueful comedy, in which the narration is pitch-perfect and the plot is clever, surprising and vibrant with immediacy. Author tour. (Oct.)
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