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The Wagers

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  114 ratings  ·  29 reviews
When Theo Potiris performed his stand-up comedy act on Conan at 25, he thought he’d hit it big. But ten years later, he's still spending his days working at his parents’ grocery store, bicycling to the local open mic, and writing letters to a girlfriend who lives halfway around the world. Theo’s desperate for a break. But when he brings his thirteen-year-old niece to the ...more
Paperback, 398 pages
Published January 21st 2020 by Tin House Books (first published September 24th 2019)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  114 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Dec 06, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5 stars

Part of this novel is great, and part is a big struggle. "The Wagers" starts off well, like a promising family drama. Theo works in the family grocery business somewhere in Canada. The whole family is involved the the store is a neighborhood staple, selling the Greek goods the family started out with and expanding to foods from all over the world. The family mostly lives in apartments above the store.

Theo has a Friday ritual. He places a bet on a horserace, and the result says whether
Jul 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I won a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway so many thanks to Goodreads and to Random House Canada. I don't think I'll ever get over that feeling of excitement any time I win. I had never heard of this author but was intrigued by the description of his novel. The book is well written and is an interesting story but moved a bit slowly, especially the first 1/3 or so. The author seems to really like to list things using as many phrases/adjectives/nouns/etc. as he can in a run-on ...more
Liz (Quirky Cat)
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 1/2 stars

I received a copy of The Wagers through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Wagers is the second novel released by the one and only Sean Michaels. This time around, he’s writing about a comedian, and he needs a major change in his life. Or in his luck. Either would suffice, at this point.

Theo Poitris has been doing standup comedy on the side since he was a teenager. He’s loved the thrill and truth of it, refusing to ever tell a joke more than once. But then one
Sarah S
Oct 11, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I made it to page 78. I can't go on... the story is a slow drag. Nothing is happening. NOTHING. Many ordinary descriptions of many ordinary things. I lack the patience.
Alexander Kosoris
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
In The Wagers, Theo Potiris believes in luck. He works at his family’s supermarket by day and does stand-up comedy at night, but he only performs a set if he wins a bet at the racetrack beforehand. Though he briefly saw some minor success with his comedy––receiving interview requests and performing on late night television––his career fizzled. In fact, luck seems more and more to be passing him by. After his mother passes away suddenly and his cousin wins millions––at the racetrack he bets at ...more
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A very light read, by which I mean this book has very little to offer in terms of substance. It is definitely not a thriller and it fails as a family drama it pretends at times to be. None of the characters are particularly likable, memorable, compelling or well developed. I could not bring myself to care about their quest either. A preposterous idea of luck being a physical substance does not work outside of the fantasy genre and the pseudo-scientific strains the author employs in the middle of ...more
Galactic Hero
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hapless Theo tries is luck at the racetrack and the comedy club when not managing the family business, but things aren't quite working out. Then a chance encounter with a mystery babe sets him on a course to changing not just his luck but luck in general.

Lots of ideas. Lots of loose ends. I guess with a theme this general, pretty much anything goes. A light enjoyable read, with an exciting though fairly typical heisty final act. I would have liked to see it to go in more weird and surprising
J.L. Slipak
Nov 30, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Are we sure that the author of Us Conductors, is the same one who wrote this mess?

Wow... I've never been more disappointed in a book as I am now. Slow, grinding slow for a large part of the book kept me growing more and more resistent to finishing the book. I'm finding it hard to believe I can love an author one moment only hate him so much in another. This book was a mess. It's way too slow, the pacing is painful; and, the
Deon Stonehouse
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Theo has spent his youth trying to make it as a comedian while working at the family grocery store. Once a week he places a bet, from the outcome he decides if it is a good night to try the comedy club. He has been doing this faithfully for years, riding his bike between his various destinations; racetrack, grocery store, comedy club. On her birthday he takes his niece to place a bet, it is tradition, she wins big. All these years of his betting and his niece hits it big on the first try! Theo ...more
K.R. Wilson
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I often find myself reading a book because of how much I enjoyed the author’s previous work. That’s what took me to Sean Michaels’ spectacular second novel THE WAGERS, which is not only a ripping yarn about luck, it’s also so dense with stylistic goodness it feels like it should be heavier. Michaels really knows how to craft a scene, or a sentence, or a world.

And speaking as a writer who’s always hoarding names for characters, I have to admire the way he profligately dumps 64 of them into a
Oct 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
It's an interesting premise. I enjoyed the Canadian locations. The beaten down protagonist was somewhat pitiful and endearing. Not sure what to make of his long distance girlfriend- she remained out of focus and difficult to grasp. But it got a little bogged down in the middle with the storing and stealing of luck. Whole pages devoted to logistics. Didn't mind so much the supermarket mundane details of stocking and checking. Felt like slice of life.
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
Thank you to Random House Canada and Netgalley for the advanced copy for my honest review.

This has to be my first DNR of the year - I read about 2-3 chapters in and just simply did not get it. The characters were not resonating with me and unable to finish the rest of it. The premise sounded so original and fun! I was a bit disappointed.
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was so strange but has so much personality, and I thought the writing was phenomenal. It takes a good author to tell a slow story in a way that’s compelling and still well-paced. And such a fun concept! If luck was a real, physical thing...what would you do to manipulate it in your favour?
Jan Dupuis
I just closed the book on page 117, not to be opened again.
I Would have enjoyed more storyline focussed on his family and their business and see where that went. I’m really not interested in their pursuit of various locations where luck is kept.
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really really wanted to love this book. Sean Michaels’ Us Conductors is a masterpiece and one of my favourites of all times, so I had high hopes for his latest. I love his writing style but was disappointed with this strange storyline. I won’t say any wasn’t for me.
I wanted to absolutely love this but it just took too long to get interesting and by then I just wasn't invested anymore. I feel like the first half of the book could have been condensed into about 50 pages and I would have enjoyed it so much more.
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelly Foley
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I might have loved this book as much as I did because I deal in probabilities professionally. But who among us does not.
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another home run for Sean Michaels. Full of great characters and a wonderful grounding in the real and fantastical.
Review to come
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What would happen if luck was a physical thing. Who would have it. Who would steal it.
Martha Brown
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’d give this book a 3.5 — some parts really held my attention and some didn’t. I really liked the premise, so I gave a 4 :)
I listened to the audiobook narrated by the author.
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written, but I found it very slow.
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had high hopes for this one as I loved Us Conductors. Not really what I was expecting. Worth reading but not a must-read ...more
Lauren Donahue
DNF, lost interest in the main character.
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, fiction, canadian
A family grocery store, a comedian who never repeats a joke, a gambling ring, a gang with no name, a cheese mafia and a bit of luck.
Daniel Field
A well written but really terrible story.
Katie Mercer
I really really wanted to like this book.
rated it really liked it
Dec 24, 2019
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Born in Stirling, Scotland in 1982, Sean Michaels grew up in Ottawa, Canada. Apart from stints in Edinburgh and Kraków, he has lived in Montreal since 2000.

Sean founded the music blog Said the Gramophone in 2003.

Working mainly as a music critic, Sean's non-fiction has been published by McSweeney's, the Guardian, Pitchfork, the Globe & Mail, the Walrus, Reader's Digest, Rolling Stone, the
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