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2015 NOMINEE FOR THE KIRKUS PRIZE FOR FICTION New York Times -bestselling author James McManus offers up a collection of seven linked stories narrated by Vincent Killeen, an Irish Catholic altar boy, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Persuaded at age eight by his grandmother that entering the priesthood will guarantee salvation for every member of his family, Vince eagerl2015 NOMINEE FOR THE KIRKUS PRIZE FOR FICTIONNew York Times-bestselling author James McManus offers up a collection of seven linked stories narrated by Vincent Killeen, an Irish Catholic altar boy, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Persuaded at age eight by his grandmother that entering the priesthood will guarantee salvation for every member of his family, Vince eagerly commits to attending a Jesuit seminary for high school. As the meaning of a vow of celibacy becomes clearer to him, however, and he is exposed to the irresistible temptations of poker and girls, life as a seminarian begins to seem less appealing. These autobiographical stories are enlightening and evocative, providing keen, often humorous insight into Catholicism, faith, celibacy and its opposite, as well as America's—and increasingly the world's—favorite card game.James McManus has been called “poker’s Shakespeare.” He is the New York Times-bestselling author of Positively Fifth Street and Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker, among others. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harper’s, The Believer, Paris Review, Esquire, and in Best American anthologies for poetry, sports writing, science and nature, and magazine writing. He is the recipient of the Peter Lisagor Award for Sports Journalism, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations. He teaches at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago....

Title : The Education of a Poker Player
Author :
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ISBN : 9781938160851
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Education of a Poker Player Reviews

  • David Schaafsma
    2019-06-07 07:36

    All InThe Education of a Poker Player is a book about how to play poker by Herbert O. Yardley published in 1957. It is also the gift given, on his thirteenth birthday, to fictional stand-in for James McManus, Vincent Killeen, an Irish Catholic altar boy who has pledged to his Gramma that he will go into the priesthood. The stories are said to be autobiographical, whatever that might mean, and there’s a time-honored tradition for doing that, think Joyce to Dybek to Cisneros and on and on. And a tradition of Chicago writers to tell stories about what it was like to grow up in the area, of course, as writers do of their towns everywhere. McManus’s town in these linked stories is the southwestern suburb of Lisle, but the center of his depiction is all that gets in the way in Vince’s path to the priesthood. Sometimes in such stories it’s the town, and sometimes it’s the growing up, and sometimes it’s growing up IN that particular time and place, and in these stories, arranged chronologically from pre-teen Vince to Vince at 16, is a little of both. In other words, for a reader of Midwest growing-up stories, it feels like a set of Chicago tales worthy of Nelson Algren, Studs Terkel, Stu Dybek, and Sandra Cisneros. It feels like Saul Bellow and Richard Wright and so many others writing of Chicago neighborhoods, though starting first with character, with actual human beings he sculpts into being.You don’t know McManus as well as all those other names of Great Authors, but in my opinion you should check him out. He lists his professions in this order: Poker player, writer and teacher. He teaches creative writing at the Chicago Art Institute and writes poetry, fiction and non-fiction, primarily about poker. His wonderful Positively Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs, and Binion's World Series of Poker I once used in an educational research methodology course as an example of multi-genre inquiry (into a sensational Vegas murder case he was following, his experience at the table at the World Series of Poker, and himself, his own life). It’s a multi-level inquiry into risk-taking behavior, and why it is we might do these things.The two principal objects in Vince’s path to the priesthood are girls and poker. As I discovered this, reading early on, I was, as they say in poker, all in. Part of my interest might derive from my own interests in poker, and girls, and great short stories about growing up. I once (in the eighties) got an MFA working with Chicago’s own Stu Dybek, who writes about growing up in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. I’m working on editing a collection of growing up in the Chicago area stories, too. I write stories, but when I slowed down the production to almost nothing to do academic publishing, I also in the process pretty much stopped reading stories, which this volume makes me regret deeply. SO GOOD. I’m back into stories with this volume, thanks, James.The stories are titled “Altar Boy,” “Concupiscence,” “Detention,” “Holy Week,” “Kings Up,” “Picasso,” and “Romeoville,” moving from elementary to high school, from altar boy to early sexual and gambling experiences. There’s a joyful focus on family and faith in sixties Chicago in these stories, and in them you can feel on Vince the pull of “the world” outside of the Irish Catholic home strong and enticing and fun. He’s discouraged by some family members from both girls (that little priest requirement) and poker (gambling, associations with drugs and alcohol), but sort of moves predictably (see the title) but entertainingly from innocence and family life to some early hilarious boyhood sexual experiences and also some touches with tragedy. McManus and I are just about the same age. When he mentions being in school when he heard JFK was shot, with all the crying and hugging teachers and being sent home, I recall that moment, too, vividly, but for Irish Catholic Vince with a portrait of the young Catholic President hanging on their walls, the effects are even more cataclysmic there. The young prince, Camelot defiled! The end of a time of innocence and hopefulness.When McManus gets to poker, finally, in “King’s Up,” we can see his attention to language throughout is deliberate, as the very separation between the church and the poker table becomes clear. McManus is a poker player, and so even then, guided by Yardley, he shows us Vince knows the lingo. The early stories reveal he knows the language, the discourse, of Roman Catholicism, and as he goes on, you can see the young smart Vince researching sexual knowledge in books (he can’t very well talk in great detail with his Dad, though he does have that talk with him) and . . . magazines, of course, (this was the pre-internet sixties, kids; Hugh Hefner was our primary source of [mis]information), but in the later stories the rich and poetic language of poker is evident and celebrated. In “King’s Up” Vince gets into a game that is potentially over his head at the golf course where he caddies, and there is some suspense as you see him learning the game as he goes and betting a lot of money. There’s also an hilarious and typical poker table story among boys and men about a sexual experience, the truth of which gets revealed in the very last line of the short story. I wanted to shout, I loved that story’s finish so much, and what it accomplishes as a comic story, as any great story. Another terrific story that pertains to the young Vince’s (ahem) “encounter” with a young fellow sophomore girl is “Picasso.” The connections between Vince’s surreptitious high school library reading of the painter’s sexual experiences with women are wonderful and very funny. Madcap is not quite right, but it’s also not Joyce’s dark Dublin, either. I found the ride, as I do Dubliners, pretty exhilarating. And sweet. Highly recommended for great entertainment that is also great literature.

  • Stephen
    2019-06-02 05:42

    I actually enjoyed this book by mistake. I thought I was buying a book about poker not only because of the title, but because I had enjoyed a previous book by this author called "Positively Fifth Street" which combined his own experience in the World Series Of Poker and a high profile murder in Las Vegas. What I got here was an autobiographical story about a young Irish Catholic boy growing up in the late 1950's thru the middle 1960's in a very Catholic home, school, the whole works. Since I grew up Catholic during the same time frame this really rang some memory bells and was pretty funny as I also discovered card games and girls in the same era as the author...

  • C. McGee
    2019-06-13 13:01

    Solid coming-of-age tales. More enjoyable and funny to people that are familiar with the Catholic experience. The portions written from the perspective of an elementary school kid are remarkable. McManus actually remembers, and successfully relays, what it was like to think through things as a child. I had forgotten, I'm glad he reminded me.

  • Kathy
    2019-05-22 10:50

    I cannot even get past the first page after having just finished a Catholic book. I wish I could get past it, but just not now. Maybe I will reconsider some day but not this day.

  • Laurel Fallon
    2019-06-13 12:52

    Very enjoyable. Very true to the Catholic religion in the 60s. I want to read some of his fiction.