BALLING THE JACK by Frank Baldwin


Email this review


 Pink-cheeked college grads try to conquer Manhattan with their frat-boy charm in this simple-minded fiction, a first novel that confuses regular-guy antics with dumb-guy boorishness and pegs it all to a plot of absurd melodrama. Twenty-three-year-old Tom Reasons, a Wall Street paralegal, risks most of his weekly pay on gambling, which, he assures us, makes him feel alive. At a local Irish saloon, he bets his wad on a single baseball game per week, and the result determines how he eats and drinks for the following seven days. A die-hard Mets fan with an encyclopedic knowledge of--what else?--rock lyrics, Tom also competes in a darts league with teammates from his college days. Scornful of slackers, Tom nevertheless admits that he lacks direction, and then sets out to prove it. First, he sabotages his boss's pending litigation because it goes against his working- stiff's morality, at the same time demonstrating an adolescent view of what big firms really do. Meanwhile, he's committed himself to the gamble of his lifetime--a high-stakes darts match against a bunch of tough and violent ``micks'' whose only weakness is a fondness for booze. With his loyal friends, Tom raises $40,000, some from his expertise as a card-counting blackjack player, some from a mob loan. When the night of ``the big score'' finally arrives, Tom's fingers have been broken, and the prospects are bleak. The resolution, though, is pure Rocky. Baldwin's slam-bang narrative, with its peculiar view of the gambling world, has more focus than sense--which is no doubt why it's already slated for the big screen. (Film rights to New Line Cinema)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-83360-3
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1997