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Love and Other Games of Chance: A Novelty by…
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Love and Other Games of Chance: A Novelty (edition 2003)

by Lee Siegel

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481431,274 (3)3
"The fantastic and flamboyant hero of Siegel's enchantingly playful new novel, Love and Other Games of Chance, is Isaac Schlossberg, circus performer, entertainer, and world traveler. The son of Jewish immigrants to America at the turn of the last century, Isaac spends his formative years in California, performing with his parents in traveling sideshows, Wild West jamborees, vaudeville, and early films. He travels to Calcutta in the 1920s and there assembles a troupe, Professor Solomon Serpentarius' Oriental Oddities and Indian Incredibilities, to take on tour to England. After playing in British music hall and variety theater, he later travels to Paris, where he works a stint in the Grand Guignol theater, and to Hollywood, where he finds himself starring as Ponce de Leon in a Hollywood movie produced by Jewish mobsters." "Isaac organizes the tall tales of his past into one hundred chapters, or squares, as on the children's game snakes and ladders. As he travels geographically around the world and up and down the game board, he moves through the different phases of erotic love affairs with, among others, a Jewish tightrope walker, the daughter of a Hindu snake charmer, a mystical British aviatrix, a Folies-Bergere danseuse, and a Communist acrobat. The cast of characters in this fantastic literary novelty also includes sharpshooters and fortunetellers, mentalists, magicians, mesmerists, and midgets. There is a feral child, a tiger trainer, and a drunken albino bear, along with cameos from Buffalo Bill, Geronimo, Hitler, Bugsy Siegel, and the Abominable Snowman." "The memorable players in this zany game are small and vulnerable people with oversized dreams and obsessive aspirations; they are all thrill seekers and fabulists, liars and con artists. Life in the carnival world of Love and Other Games of Chance is, above all else, a sumptuous entertainment, at once silly and grand, absurd yet full of meaning."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)
Member:McLinda
Title:Love and Other Games of Chance: A Novelty
Authors:Lee Siegel
Info:Viking Adult (2003), Hardcover, 432 pages
Collections:Your library
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Love and Other Games of Chance: A Novelty by Lee Siegel

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It is an unusual thing for me to review a book without having first read it cover-to-cover, but Love and Other Games of Chance is an unusual book. It is a piece of Lee Siegel's para-autobiographical fiction project that comprehends Love in a Dead Language and Who Wrote the Book of Love?, and it details the life of "Siegel's" alleged genetic father, who was raised in a circus family in California, advancing from snake-boy to sharpshooter, traveled the world from India to France, and recounted his many loves in a manuscript that this book purports to publish.

The book is in 100 short chapters, keyed to a board for a game of snakes & ladders. The overt implication is that a reader might use a conventional die to "play" through the book. After reading Chapter 1, roll the die and move on the included board, suffering the effects of any ladder or snake thus reached. Then read the chapter for the resulting space, and continue. So I did. I probably read thirty to forty chapters in this fashion, mostly in an ascending sequence on a first rapid pass up the board before I encountered my first snake.

Although I enjoyed everything I read, the book did not benefit from the lack of narrative continuity introduced by my reading procedure. As much as my attempt was in the spirit of the book, I would not recommend this method to other readers. After several months of intermittent engagement with the book, I'm shelving it to await a more conventional reading in the future.
2 vote paradoxosalpha | May 20, 2018 |
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"The fantastic and flamboyant hero of Siegel's enchantingly playful new novel, Love and Other Games of Chance, is Isaac Schlossberg, circus performer, entertainer, and world traveler. The son of Jewish immigrants to America at the turn of the last century, Isaac spends his formative years in California, performing with his parents in traveling sideshows, Wild West jamborees, vaudeville, and early films. He travels to Calcutta in the 1920s and there assembles a troupe, Professor Solomon Serpentarius' Oriental Oddities and Indian Incredibilities, to take on tour to England. After playing in British music hall and variety theater, he later travels to Paris, where he works a stint in the Grand Guignol theater, and to Hollywood, where he finds himself starring as Ponce de Leon in a Hollywood movie produced by Jewish mobsters." "Isaac organizes the tall tales of his past into one hundred chapters, or squares, as on the children's game snakes and ladders. As he travels geographically around the world and up and down the game board, he moves through the different phases of erotic love affairs with, among others, a Jewish tightrope walker, the daughter of a Hindu snake charmer, a mystical British aviatrix, a Folies-Bergere danseuse, and a Communist acrobat. The cast of characters in this fantastic literary novelty also includes sharpshooters and fortunetellers, mentalists, magicians, mesmerists, and midgets. There is a feral child, a tiger trainer, and a drunken albino bear, along with cameos from Buffalo Bill, Geronimo, Hitler, Bugsy Siegel, and the Abominable Snowman." "The memorable players in this zany game are small and vulnerable people with oversized dreams and obsessive aspirations; they are all thrill seekers and fabulists, liars and con artists. Life in the carnival world of Love and Other Games of Chance is, above all else, a sumptuous entertainment, at once silly and grand, absurd yet full of meaning."--BOOK JACKET.

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