This true story about a short trip to the casino makes for a banal retelling of a weekend getaway.
Haskell, a writer, and his wife, Nancy, a domestic engineer, need a break from their routine and decide to take a weekend trip. They use their connections to get into a sold-out Tom Jones concert and are on their way. While traveling from home to the concert venue—their favorite casino, the Horseshoe—they have an ominous encounter on the road that seems to foreshadow ill things to come. They continue on their journey regardless, and once at the Horseshoe, they meet up with their daughter and son-in-law to hit the slot machines. When they finally make it to the concert, they have an odd experience outside the arena and another inside the show, but they end up enjoying the music all the same. The rest of the weekend is spent lunching with their friends, playing the slot machines for hours and reminiscing with each other about vacations past. If only the story had focused on these recollections and the narrator’s obviously lovely relationship with his wife. When Haskell (The Knighthood of Zion, 2008, etc.) writes about love, there are moments of poetically lovely phrasing. Unfortunately, formatting issues, unnecessary repetitions, factual discrepancies and stilted language create a tedious read that doesn’t live up to its sensational claims. There’s not much fantastical or unbelievable in this “true story,” as the story is all too believable. It needs more emotional substance for it to be worth the reader’s effort.
Better suited to cocktail party chatter than a novella.