The Noble Hustle is Pulitzer finalist Colson Whitehead's hilarious memoir of his search for meaning at high stakes poker tables, which the author describes as "Eat, Pray, Love for depressed shut-ins."From the Hardcover edition.
On one level, The Noble Hustle is a familiar species of participatory journalism--a longtime neighborhood poker player, Whitehead was given a $10,000 stake and an assignment from the online online magazine Grantland to see how far he could get in the World Series of Poker. But since it stems from the astonishing mind of Colson Whitehead (MacArthur Award-endorsed!), the book is a brilliant, hilarious, weirdly profound, and ultimately moving portrayal of--yes, it sounds overblown and ridiculous, but really!--the human condition.
After weeks of preparation that included repeated bus trips to glamorous Atlantic City, and hiring a personal trainer to toughen him up for sitting at twelve hours a stretch, the author journeyed to the gaudy wonderland that is Las Vegas - the world's greatest "Leisure Industrial Complex" -- to try his luck in the multi-million dollar tournament. Hobbled by his mediocre playing skills and a lifelong condition known as "anhedonia" (the inability to experience pleasure) Whitehead did not - spoiler alert! - win tens of millions of dollars. But he did chronicle his progress, both literal and existential, in this unbelievably funny, uncannily accurate social satire whose main target is the author himself.
Whether you've been playing cards your whole life, or have never picked up a hand, you're sure to agree that this book contains some of the best writing about beef jerky ever put to paper.
"Astonishing. . . . Witty. . . . Tom Wolfe crossed with Tom Pynchon." --The Washington Post
"The Noble Hustle is fierce, funny and totally worth the buy-in." --New York Daily News
"Whitehead proves a brilliant sociologist of the poker world." --The Boston Globe
"The Noble Hustle, part love letter, part dark confessional, captures perfectly the mix of neurosis and narrative that makes gambling so appealing." --Mother Jones
"[A] trenchant, ruefully funny memoir of one man's attempt to dispel the banality of living with the anxiety of chance." --USA Today
"Fascinating. . . . Funny. . . . It's hard not to root for the underdog." --Chicago Tribune
"Mordantly funny from the first sentence. . . . Mr. Whitehead may not have gone home in the money, but he has a way with upstanding sentences." --The Economist
"Hilarious. . . . Equal parts philosophical and farcical." --The Seattle Times
"Clever and entertaining." --The Miami Herald
"[Whitehead's] reporting on the grimy glitz of casinos and competitive gambling has a funny, tragic, loser-chic sensibility." --The New Yorker
"A literary guide to the often bizarre world of casino-poker tournaments." --The Wall Street Journal
"Whitehead captures the sketchy and zombielike nature of poker tournament play well enough to leave you wishing this book came with a free bottle of Purell." --Entertainment Weekly
"A sly, shambling, self-appraising riff on how he--a fervent amateur (and newly divorced father)--braved a Las Vegas World Series of Poker tourney." --Elle
"From the first sentence to the last, Colson Whitehead never stops being clever. . . . If Whitehead played poker as well as he writes, he would have made the final table." --The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Part memoir, part satire, part meditation on the fractured state of contemporary culture." --Los Angeles Times
"A masterpiece of sportswriting." --The Rumpus