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Slots: Praying to the God of Chance by David…
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Slots: Praying to the God of Chance

by David V. Forrest

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
To misquote Dorothy Parker, "This is not a (book) to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."
The premise is interesting. Casinos as the new church. The author has experience in neurophysiology and psychiatry. Surely he has an inside view of what lures people to casinos and leaves them there, helplessly pinned to the slots like beetles to a board with a pin. However, although it is apparent that the author is likely both a gambling addict and perhaps an alcoholic, there is little of interest in this book. The author quotes Dan Brown, for heaven's sake! (Hardly a bastion of accuracy in historical areas). He describes, lovingly, each and every casino he has frequented, and he has frequented a LOT of casinos. He describes slot machines ad nauseum , and decides that the fact that one has to raise ones eyes up and down leads to hypnotism and reverence. He describes paintings on the walls of people gesturing upwards and concludes this is the same as a cathedral.
I tried to finish this book, hoping that somewhere I would find a nugget of anything other than rambling unsubstantiated comments with the occasional unrelated name droppings. I had to stop when he began on "slots and gender" with the following: "The preponderance of women at the slots...may also be no accident. Slot playing capitalizes on one thing woman do better than men: sitting still and performing a repetitive activity. Women are better than men at working on an assembly line while seated. They are said to be more docile and less likely to be restless."
Said by whom? And how damnably sexist and ridiculous! He goes on to equate the vision of women at the slots with women in a sweatshop, only stopping to giggle that the sweatshop gals are steadily making more money than the slot gals.
His argument that people enter a meditative state at slots because the rolling of the dies is at the same pace of relaxed breathing is spurious, and I think the author's understanding of the world is sorely lacking if he thinks people have replaced worship with gambling. It is an addiction, pure and simple, and instead of reading how the addictive response is effected, we are treated to various ramblings about ersatz "may be" factoids interspersed with drooling awe.
The doctor needs help.
Not recommended. If you are a gambling addict, this is like reading about booze for an alcoholic. It might even make you feel that your need to go to the casino is part of a spiritual quest, instead of greed. If you wonder about the brain, this isn't your book, either. If you're a woman, you'll be offended. If you are of the First Nations, you will be infuriated. If you're a man, you will resent being belittled as someone with the attention span of a newt. Do not waste your time. I resent the time I've spent, for sure. But I gambled, and lost. ( ) ( )
1 vote Dabble58 | Jan 1, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I wasn't able to finish the book because the writing was so bad. The information contained in the book was fascinating but the presentation let this book down.
  epadafunk | Feb 19, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm a little baffled as to how to describe this book. It's kind of all of over the place. At one point, as I was reading it, I asked myself if, as an exercise, I would be able to re-assemble the sentences in a chapter in the order they were presented. Not only was the answer to that a resounding 'no' but the unfortunate truth was that I wouldn't have been able to re-assemble the sentences in most paragraphs or even decide which sub-headings belonged in which chapter.

And yet...there was an oddly pleasing rhythm in this prose. So reading it was certainly not un-enjoyable.

As a previous reviewer has described, it's as though the author had this idea of playing slots being like some sort of religious practice. But then he didn't really go further with the idea, or give an opinion about this. For example, this could have been a jumping off point for criticizing religious practice or slot play or marketing of slot play, or endorsing previous taboos against gambling propagated by religious leaders. But it wasn't any of these things.

While the author didn't come straight out and endorse slot play as a desirable hobby, he made it quite clear that he did himself engage in it. And went on to give tips for reducing one's own slot habits.

Spoiler alert: you might want to consider bird watching or coin collecting to reign in your slot habit, according to the author.

So to sum up, while I found the content of the book lacking in oh-so-many ways, I did enjoy the author's writing. At least on a sentence by sentence basis (since, as mentioned, there was no coherent progression in said melodic sentences). ( )
  Deesirings | Mar 1, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I've never been tempted by slot machines or any gambling at all but I was fascinated to read how they lure people in to use them and lull them into relaxing into throwing your money away uselessly. This book is an unbiased look at how we are enticed into the casinos or to play the game and what kind of personality would fall the tricks. This is a very easy flowing read, interesting and educational without being dry. ( )
  Ani36ol | Feb 27, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
New York psychiatrist David Forrest had an insight, that slot machine players resembled people at prayer, followed by a good idea, to explicate slots-play as a kind of religious ritual, both of which he then squandered in writing this awful book.

The book is awful because the author seems to have little understanding of religious experience and no knowledge of religious practice outside of a Sunday-School version of Christianity, because he wasn't interested enough in his idea to do any research, and because he's not quite sure if he wants us to take the theme seriously. Sometimes playing slots is like prayer, but sometimes it's like meditation, or masturbation, sometimes it's pathological and sometimes therapeutic. Sometimes he's more interested in describing a meal he had at a casino and pointing out that it was “comped”, and sometimes he has an utterly irrelevant anecdote he wants to pass along, apparently just because it entered his head.

A lot of people play slots and many of them like to talk about it, the way anybody likes to talk about their hobbies and pastimes, but there isn't much to say, really, so things are bound to get repetitive. The book, then, might find an audience among the hobbyists – it does go on for 150+ pages -- but unless you just can't hear enough about slot machines and the people who play them and think “one can render unto Caesars Palace the things which are Caesars Palace’s” is high wit, avoid this book. ( )
2 vote steve.clason | Feb 23, 2012 |
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"This book describes with both humor and a sense of awe the way slots emporia have steadily been transformed from underground grottos to soaring cathedral-like structures here congregants sit and commune all to the end of worshiping the god of chance"--Back cover.… (more)

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