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Life if a Game of Poker
Jim "Cowboy" Childers
Publisher: Self-published (1999)
Pages: 102

Jim Childers sent me a copy of his self-published book, Life is a Game of Poker, to review. Apparently it was earlier published as a serial in Poker Digest, although this was my first time reading it.

Written in the form of a novel, the book's basic building blocks are conversations between two main characters: a poker master, and a wannabe named Dan. With the bulk of the book's substance composed of wisdom imparted from the teacher to the student, the book reads more like a parable than a novel - we are led to appreciate the wisdom of the teacher and the shortcomings of the student, and we are expected to experience something akin to enlightenment. You don't have to read far into the book to get this impression, the table of contents is far enough. The first two chapters are titled, "The Teacher Appears" and "The Student is Ready."

The tone of the book is decidedly mystical, an approach that I don't find particularly appealing, and that did not benefit from the generally clumsy writing. Most of the book's dialogues take place in a coffee shop, even though they could as easily have taken place in an internet chat room, on the moon, or by telegram. The overall effect is that of a thin veneer of a narrative used to package lessons the author wishes to teach - much like many other parables. The lessons themselves are vague, extremely general advice, that may or may not do anyone any good. I don't think they represent much insight, but someone else might find them life-changing.

The coffee shop (we are told they are in a coffee shop, I guess that qualifies as a setting) is populated by a waitress who serves no useful purpose in the book, but dutifully appears in a sentence or two near the beginning of each chapter. She serves the food, the two characters ogle her a bit, and then the next parable begins. She surfaces again on the final two pages as, basically, a prize. I thought this was at least a little offensive, and didn't do anything for the book.

Although I'd be the last one to suggest that books ought to be priced by weight, the cover price of $19.95 seems excessive for this 102 page collection of soft wisdom. However, if you are inclined towards mystical insight, you might find it helpful.

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