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Shut Up and Deal
Jesse May
Publisher: Anchor Books (1998)
Pages: 217
ISBN: 0-385-48940-4
Reviewed: 1/99

Shut Up and Deal is not a novel so much as a collection of vignettes centered around the life of a poker player. It's hard to review this book as a poker player, because much of the scenery that provides a background for the book (and really, it's all background) is second nature to me. I don't find the habits, language, or beliefs of poker players all that mysterious, and so it's hard to imagine how the book might read to someone less familiar with poker culture.

Nonetheless, I think it's fair to say that this book is almost entirely atmosphere, and almost no plot. There are minor threads of continuity in that the central "character" does seem to develop through the book, and a few characters reappear here and there. But it would be hard to argue that anything approaching a coherent story is told in this book. Individual episodes do seem to resolve themselves to some extent, but one would be hard pressed to say that the novel absolutely has to be read in any particular order.

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