Book Review: Pocket Kings - Ted Heller / by Scott Spooner


"It is a cold and harrowing morning in the life of a man the day he wakes up, looks at himself in the mirror, and finally realizes that he is not, has never been, nor will ever be George Clooney."


Part comedy, part confessional, and at times delusional, Pocket Kings is the story of a washed out writer who turns to online gambling to curb his dissatisfaction with life. However, his toe in the water leads to complete obsession as this writer finally finds something he's good at. With each added failure of his writing career his chip count goes up. But just as with any broken man, when things are finally looking up the only place to go is down.

This is the only book I've read by Ted Heller, but from the first page I knew it was a good fit. Frank Dixon has everything you want in a main character; self loathing, a sense of humor, and just enough hope to think he can make things better for himself. The book also touches on the weird and twisted world of book publishers as Frank spends more time looking in on the world than he is actually a part of it. And it's those ingredients that make this book such a quick read. We meet Frank, feel some sympathy and we're along for the ride. Heller does a great job of taking us on a true journey of addiction. What starts as break a from his day to day routine slowly becomes his only routine and we see the compromises Frank makes with himself to end up there.

If you enjoy books about writers, gambling, or just looking for some great one-liners this book is definitely worth picking up.