ROLL THE DICE by Wayne Avrashow


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In this hilarious, politically savvy potboiler, an aging rock star stages his biggest gig yet—a high-profile election campaign.

Pushing 50, singer and perennial Rolling Stone cover boy Tyler Sloan decides that an independent run for the open Senate seat in his home state of Nevada is just the thing to cement his legacy. With sky-high name recognition, crowd-pleasing charisma and a personal fortune to spend, his chances don’t look bad. But he struggles with plenty of negatives, including a well-publicized history of drug abuse, the united hostility of the Republican and Democratic party machines, and an unequalled risk of bimbo eruptions. (Floating around somewhere is an old video of him engaging in group sex—with his GOP opponent.) Sloan plunges into the whirl of exaltation and degradation that is the modern election campaign: boning up on his cow-milking technique for a county fair, deflecting idiotic press gotchas (the direst is an accusation of vegetarianism flung at him before an audience of cattle ranchers), enduring the Girl Scouts’ heckling, patiently rebuffing every demand to sing and ducking when a Second Amendment stalwart opens fire. Almost as riotous are the backstage wranglings: Sloan’s campaign manager is wearing a wire for the Feds, his lawyer is up to his monogrammed cuff links in influence peddling, and the sexual tension with his edgy media guru is primed to explode. For all the fun it pokes, Avrashow’s novel is keenly observant in its depiction of both the public histrionics of elections and the hard-boiled dealmaking and arm twisting that go on behind closed doors. The author’s subtle, knowing prose brings out layers of complexity in characters and their motives, never reducing them or their quest to caricatures. Sloan is an intelligent, politically savvy hero, ready to compromise—although he also realizes the value of a vicious attack ad. He runs a feel-good populist campaign that promises vague “solutions” while skirting specifics, yet he retains a core of conviction that gives his politics some substance. As mired as Sloan is in the sleaze of vote-getting, readers will be eager to see him win.

An entertaining, spot-on portrait of politics at its corrupt, dysfunctional, inspiring best.

Page count: 430pp
Publisher: Manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2013


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