|Colson Whitehead, I'm still|
single. Call me?
The Noble Hustle is Colson Whitehead's nonfiction account of his journey into the world of sports. The ESPN website Grantland contacted Whitehead about writing a sports piece for their site, but the guy's a novelist; he doesn't play sports. He does, however, play poker. Since college, the author has been playing regularly with other authors--Nathan Englander--and creative types--film maker Darren Aronofsky--but he's never participated in professional tournaments. No problem. Grantland ponied up the $10,000 entrance fee and signed Colson up for the World Series of Poker.
|Doubleday created cool posters|
to promote the book.
"Anhedonia's native tongue has
fifty-seven words for sad."
I love this book.
Because The Noble Hustle is ostensibly a sports book, Whitehead begins a strict training regiment. He...hires consultants specializing in yoga and meditation to help him focus while sitting for twelve hours. He practices sitting. He finds a poker coach--a middle aged, middle class woman who could have passed as a school teacher. He obsesses over being the first person eliminated from the World Series of Poker. He dons the proper attire. Most of the professional poker players wear corporate-sponsored garb; Whitehead creates a "Republic of Anhedonia" hoodie and is sponsored by a bookstore.
|Whitehead at the WSOP,|
ready for battle.
As the reader follows Whitehead's journey--what he calls "Eat, Pray, Love for depressed shut-ins"--insights into the culture, game, and idiosyncrasies of this subculture are illuminated. Vegas, baby. And beef jerky, since Jack Link's Beef Jerky sponsors the event. The online world of poker. The weird characters. The intensity of the games. The tells. The chips. The tournaments.
Yeah, this is a book about poker, but you don't need to be a poker player (I'm not) to love it. Here's a book that's both top-level participatory journalism and discovery memoir, but nothing is taken too seriously. It's genius and a ton of fun.