Wandering writer and poker aficionado Holden (William Shakespeare, 2000, etc.) tries to revisit the scene of earlier glories.

Big Deal, his 1990 account of life on the pro poker circuit, is considered by authorities as varied as Salman Rushdie and the New York Times to be one of the great books on the game. So Holden spied in the recent explosion (and subsequent semi-implosion) of poker-mania an opportunity to go back and see how things had changed, if at all. He sets up his story as a ramshackle sort of gambling odyssey: barnstorming from Vegas to London to Monte Carlo and back again, playing cards and bumping into old buddies, trading war stories of life as an itinerant journalist. (Besides writing about gambling for various publications, he’s also a classical-music critic.) The whole journey turns on his desire to win—or at least not embarrass himself in—the World Series of Poker. Apart from its exceedingly detailed accounts of Holden’s various matches, the narrative bends to accommodate any of the author’s passing interests. It’s difficult to begrudge Holden the chance to make his hobby into a working holiday, and he certainly does have an interesting passel of friends, ranging from seasoned old card sharps to political gadfly Christopher Hitchens. But this book is ultimately only for those interested in pages of entries like the following: “1:10p.m.: Up to $3750. Thanks to 8-8 on my big blind (now $200), with a flop of 7-8-9, including two hearts.”


Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-7432-9482-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Puccini wins the prize for most-maligned great composer. In a fit of depressive self-deprecation, Puccini himself called his own music ``sugary,'' and the persistent popularity of his mature operas at box-offices around the world for nearly a century has too often provoked critical condescension, as if art so well-loved could not possibly be worth much. But that situation, thankfully, is changing, and this much-needed essay collection on Puccini by leading scholars of 19th- and 20th-century Italian opera is worth a good deal more than several new biographies. The volume ranges from a lengthy piece on Puccini's family by his granddaughter (one of the editors) to chapters devoted to Puccini's ``musical world'' and each of his operas by luminaries such as William Weaver, Harvey Sachs, Fedele D'Amico, Verdi heavyweights Mary Jane Phillips-Matz and Julian Budden, and William Ashbrook. A favorite: David Hamilton's expert investigation of the early Tosca recordings, especially the legendary ``Mapelson cylinders'' of live Metropolitan Opera performances from 1902-03, to see what light they shed on Puccini's original interpreters. The editors, perhaps hoping to attract non-musicologist admirers of the Luccan master, issue the disclaimer that ``this is not a work of scholarship'' (even though two of the chapters make a start on an accessible Puccini bibliography). They needn't have worried. Lovers of Puccini and Italian opera at every level of interest and knowledge will want this book. (Photographs—not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 1994

ISBN: 0-393-02930-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1994

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