THE BOOK OF NUMBERS by Robert D. Pharr


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This is another book that explores ""The Life,"" this time the ""Sporting Life"" that can be found in the ghetto if you can find an extra nickel, dime or dollar to play the poor man's panacea, the numbers. Two would-be hustlers, Blue Boy and Dave, come to a small southern city to set up a ""bank"" and take in the action. Their recruits include ""Pigmeat"" Goins, a ""Vessey Street chick"" wise and a touch tainted who will end up as a dead prostitute; ""Cokey,"" a sharp college undergraduate who will inevitably be damned with the responsibility for Blue Boy's death (a vicious beating from the cops); Kelly Miller, beautiful and brilliant who will become a tubercular alcoholic and finally Delilah, a black ""gullah"" talking virgin who will become Dave's love and mistress and eventually inherit the business after his crack-up. Yeah there is a lot of action in the book which Mr. Pharr manages to keep colorful (no pun intended), and moving. And he has a marvelous ear for dialogue and dialects. But the characters flicker one dimensionally and are never as real as the folks you met on Nathan C. Heard's Howard Street (1968, p. 1002).

Pub Date: April 4th, 1969
Publisher: Doubleday