Next up is Lay the Favorite: A Memoir of Gambling by Beth Raymer. I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the Goodreads.com First Reads program.
An eye-popping and hilarious joyride through the underworld of sports betting
Beth Raymer arrived in Las Vegas in 2001, hoping to land a job as a cocktail waitress at one of the big casinos. In the meantime, she lived in a $17-a-night motel with her dog, Otis, and waited tables at a low-rent Thai restaurant. One day, one of her regular customers told her about a job she thought Beth would be perfect for and sent her to see Dink, of Dink Inc. Dink was a professional sports gambler—one of the biggest in Vegas. He was looking for a right-hand man—someone who would show up on time, who had a head for numbers, and who didn’t steal. She got the job.
Lay the Favorite is the story of Beth Raymer’s years in the high-stakes, high-anxiety world of sports betting—a period that saw the fall of the local bookie and the rise of the freewheeling, unregulated offshore sports book, and with it the elevation of sports betting in popular culture. As the business explodes, Beth rises—from assistant to expert, trusted and seasoned enough to open an offshore booking office in the Caribbean with a few associates, men who leave their families up north to make a quick killing, while donning new tropical personas fueled by abundant drugs and local girlfriends, and who one by one succumb to their vices. They lie, cheat, steal, and run, until Beth is the last man standing.
Beth Raymer is a natural storyteller: funny, charming, and fully awake to the ironies around her. But she is also a keen and compassionate observer of the adrenaline-addicted, rougish types who become her mentors, her enemies, her family. Raymer brings to life a world that teems with pathos and ecstasy in this wild picaresque that also tells the story of a young woman’s crazy, sexy, most unlikely coming-of-age.
Although this book is not one I would normally pick up, the description caught my eye. I entered for the giveaway on goodreads.com and won! Naturally, I was excited I won–I always get excited about free books!–but I was also a little apprehensive. This wasn’t a book I would normally read, and I was a bit nervous that I might not like it.
One of the reasons I was nervous I wouldn’t like this book is that most of the book discusses gambling. Specifically, it discusses betting on sports. As someone with limited gambling experience, I was afraid I wouldn’t understand the story points involving gambling. It turned out I didn’t need to worry. The author did a great job describing any gambling terminology throughout the story, and I never felt lost or confused.
The thing I enjoyed the most about this book was how it allowed me to escape my own life for a while. As someone who has lived a nice orderly life, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to just pick up and do whatever I wanted. Beth, the author and focus of this memoir, does just that. For example, she moves to New York city on a whim with no job or place to live. While the thought of doing that terrifies me, it was great to read of her experience. Another decision she makes–deciding to try and become a Golden Glove boxing champion–is something I would never do, but enjoyed reading about. These are just some of the interesting twists and turns her life takes in the book. All of these twists make up a story that is very interesting, in part because it is so different from my every day life.
This book was a quick read because I had a hard time putting it down. The need to know what happened to Beth next kept my attention. The constant surprises made up of various twists and turns made this story enjoyable. The only complaint I had was that the book had to end!
Review: Fantastic book for anyone to read. Great tale by a fantastic storyteller. The need to know what happened next kept me turning the pages. I often tried to put the book down but I couldn’t. Although I could not relate to the main character, I still enjoyed the story she told. I recommend you pick this book up once it is released June 2nd.