Double Down by Frederick Barthelme
Reflections on Gambling and Loss

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Synopsis

"So each night begins. One of us picks up the other and we drive into the Mississippi darkness, headed for a place where everything is different." This first nonfiction book by Frederick Barthelme, author of BOB THE GAMBLER, and his brother and colleague Steven is both a story of family feeling and a testimony to the risky allure of casinos. Within a year and a half, the authors had lost both of their parents, less than a decade after their brother Donald died. Their exacting father had been a prominent modernist architect in Houston; their mother, the architect of this family of seven, which she "invented, shaped, guided, and protected." "We were on our own in a remarkable new way," the Barthelmes write, "and we were not ready." What followed was a several-year escapade during which the two brothers lost close to a quarter million dollars in the gambling boats off the Mississippi coast. They played to enter that addictive land of possibility. Then, in a bizarre twist, they were charged with violating state gambling laws, fingerprinted, and thrown into the surreal world of felony prosecution. For two years these widely publicized charges hung over their heads, shadowing their every step, until, in August of 1999, the charges were finally dismissed. DOUBLE DOWN is the sometimes wryly told, often heartbreaking story of how Frederick and Steven Barthelme got into this predicament. It is also a reflection on the pull and power of illusions, the way they work on us when we are not careful.
 

About Frederick Barthelme

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Frederick Barthelme is the author of eleven books, most recently BOB THE GAMBLER and THE PAINTED DESERT. He directs the writing program at the University of Southern Mississippi and edits the literary journal Mississippi Review. Mr. Barthelme currently lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
 
Published May 21, 2001 by Mariner Books. 218 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Humor & Entertainment, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Double Down

Kirkus Reviews

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Rick and Steve describe a sort of sealing off of emotion as a family trait, one that became a dangerous safety valve in the casinos, where their studied uncaring made it possible to withstand the batterings of repeated loss.

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Publishers Weekly

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In the legal system, whoever tells the best story wins. But when two workaday English teachers--who happen to be the writers Frederick Barthelme (Bob the Gambler) and Steven Barthelme (And He Tell

Nov 01 1999 | Read Full Review of Double Down: Reflections on G...

Publishers Weekly

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Their narrative seductively juxtaposes the stark loss of their parents, their family's ""psychological arithmetic"" and the ""miraculous multiplication"" of winning at the blackjack tables, moving fluently between an account of the brothers' fall into addiction and their memories of a family life...

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Entertainment Weekly

It's a brutally candid, unflattering self-portrait of two successful middle-aged men (Rick, 55, has published 11 books of fiction, including — ironically enough — 1997's Bob the Gambler, and Steve, 52, published a well-reviewed collection of poetry and short stories, And He Tells the Little ...

Nov 12 1999 | Read Full Review of Double Down: Reflections on G...

Entertainment Weekly

As Frederick (''Rick'') and Steven Barthelme -- writers of literary fiction (their brother Donald, an esteemed short story author, died in 1989) -- relate in Double Down, their superb (and horrifying) memoir of a betting spree, the waterborne casinos of Biloxi and Gulfport, Miss., seemed a good w...

Nov 10 1999 | Read Full Review of Double Down: Reflections on G...

Chicago Tribune

If the Barthelme brothers (review of "Double Down," Books Nov. 14), writing instructors at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss., found academia intolerably dull and their faculty colleagues "curiously reduced when it came to vision and possibility," imagine the plight of t...

Dec 19 1999 | Read Full Review of Double Down: Reflections on G...

LV Revealed

In 1995, two brothers who were also college professors in Mississippi discovered the allure of casino gambling at the gulf coast's casinos.

Feb 13 2001 | Read Full Review of Double Down: Reflections on G...

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