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Bob the Gambler

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  182 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
What I'd always liked about Biloxi was the decay, the things falling apart, the crap along the beach, the skeletons of abandoned hotels, the trashy warehouses and the rundown piers jutting out into the dirty water, so I wasn't thrilled that in the last five years our dinky coast town had been turned into an outlet-mall version of Las Vegas, with a dozen cartoon casinos, lo ...more
Hardcover, 213 pages
Published July 1st 1999 by Houghton Mifflin (first published October 15th 1997)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 316)
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Scott Belan
Nov 11, 2011 Scott Belan rated it it was amazing
One of my very favorite books, this is a small-scale masterpiece about the long slow slide into weirdness and loserdom.
Megan Baxter
May 19, 2014 Megan Baxter rated it liked it
I have a hard time not wanting to shake people who gamble in desperate hopes of hitting it big and sit down and show them the math.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Charles White
Jan 29, 2011 Charles White rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
The gambling scenes were especially powerful.
Jul 23, 2015 Jeremiah added it
Shelves: fiction
This is probably my favorite, or best work I've read by Barthelme, and I think that this work emphasizes that his aesthetic is, indeed, a kind of craft. What attracts me and what emphasizes Barthelme's talent as a novelist is the choice to set the novel around the casino. Barthelme rooted his earlier novel "Tracer" around a condominium complex, a significantly less dramatic stage than a casino. However, the difference is clear from the novel's first paragraph:

"What I'd always liked about Biloxi
Jul 13, 2015 Peter rated it liked it
This was one of those books I didn't even remember buying. I finally took it off the shelf this week and read it in three days, because the first person narrator is that immediately engaging. I've only been in a casino gambling once, but the vivid scenes of casino life vividly brought up that intense combination of addiction and depression. There's lots of funny dialogue, and one of the better depictions of a teenage girl I've read in a contemporary novel. The book settles in at three stars, tho ...more
Dec 20, 2013 christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
my experience of reading this book was mostly thinking, "this is funny" and "i like this part" while reading it. at one point reading this book i accidentally flipped ~20 pages too far and read a paragraph and felt confused and thought that "at least 20 years as passed since i stopped reading".

reading this book made me go out and buy ~1200 post it notes at a store so that i would feel more comfortable writing things in the book via writing them on a note a sticking it to the page related to the
Guy Choate
Aug 18, 2014 Guy Choate rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel
I've lost a decent amount of money gambling, which led me to read Double Down Reflections on Gambling and Loss, which is essentially the nonfiction version of this book. And because some scenes played out so very similarly for Ray as they did for Barthelme, I couldn't help but cringe for him and his losses, for his bad decisions. The events are so well written that I had to take breaks and allow my stress levels to come down. Ray gets in that zone of loss and it hits home. When I finished the bo ...more
Cole Ott
Nov 25, 2015 Cole Ott rated it it was amazing
The writing style's usually very straightforward, but Barthelme's great at getting you into the narrator Ray's head (especially in a few gambling scenes. I don't know if I've ever before been so stressed out on a character's behalf). Barthelme's also very aware of the reader's expectations—if a character walks into a casino, we obviously assume they're either going to win big or lose hard—which he plays with pretty masterfully to create tension and, towards the end, explore bigger themes. The ch ...more
Sep 05, 2014 Michael rated it it was amazing
Painfully authentic, subtle and slyly funny.
Michael D Mitchell
Mar 25, 2016 Michael D Mitchell rated it liked it
More of the same from this author
Jul 27, 2008 Richard rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 23, 2010 Amara rated it liked it
I really liked how this family pulled together under difficult circumstances. The dialogue was a little hard to relate to, but not the motives and struggles of the characters.
Brian Foley
Sep 01, 2008 Brian Foley rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2008
Barthelme might be one of the most optimistic authors writing
joshua caleb
Sep 22, 2007 joshua caleb rated it liked it
life affirming like many other books.

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Barthelme's works are known for their focus on the landscape of the New South. Along with his reputation as a minimalist, together with writers Raymond Carver, Ann Beattie, Amy Hempel, and Mary Robison, Barthelme's work has also been described by terms such as "dirty realism" and "K-mart realism."He published his first short story in The New Yorker,and has claimed that a rotisserie chicken helped ...more
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