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Good Money after Bad Paperback – February 28, 2007
With a gambler named Chance as the protagonist in his roguishly witty debut novel, former Chicago Sun-Times sports reporter Evans places some high-stakes bets and comes out way ahead. Chance cuts quite a figure in his vintage fedoras and fancy duds, but luscious and brash Gwen isn't thrilled to discover that he shares his digs, an apartment within earshot of Wrigley Field, with his grandmother. Not that flashy, flask-packing Gram isn't good company. What Gwen doesn't know is that Chance is addicted to sports betting. With debts mounting, he gives his body to science, playing guinea pig for drug trials and sleep studies and getting tangled up with sinister one-eyed Fenwick, aka Phase One. Evans is a terrifically atmospheric writer, deftly evoking the world of bookies and compulsive gamblers, the tensions of gentrification, a surreally severe heat wave, and the consequences of secret desperation. Combining the blue-collar, neighborhood-anchored aesthetic Chicago writers are known for with a touch of suavely boozy noir, a sliver of medical-thriller action, and loads of charm, Evans tells a rascally and edgy cautionary tale. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Don Evans is a former sports reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times and Lombardian/Villa Park Review newspapers, where he also was an editor, photojournalist, general reporter, and humor columnist. The Illinois Press Association named Evans' "As Far As You Know" one of the best mid-sized newspaper columns in the state. Evans has also been honored for his short story writing --with a citation in Best American Short Stories' "100 Most Distinguished" and two Pushcart Prize nominations. He received fellowships to Syracuse University, where he earned an MFA under the mentorship of Tobias Wolff, and Saltonstall Foundation For The Arts. Evans has taught writing, literature and history at Syracuse University, Hamilton College (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), Friends World (London), and Westwood College (Chicago). He is a former serious gambler and part-time bookie, but gave that all up and currently is a stay- at-home dad who writes fiction in his son Dusty's sleeping hours.
Top customer reviews
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My only complaint is that I could not put it down even when my eyes were too tired to keep reading comfortably... this is a great story and I look forward to reading more novels by the same author.
As we follow Chance we begin to see how he is forced to operate. The story is fascinating and unique. You like him, but you know that he's made his own bed. And in the middle of the story, you have some reluctant sympathy when he says out loud he's going to quit as soon as he breaks even.
The novel is very much a Chicago story. The North Side is a major character. I didn't totally buy the love interest story line early in the book, but the 'resolution' there makes the journey worthwhile. Chance seems like more of a struggle-to-score-the-one-night-stand, quirky kind of guy; I didn't see a woman this good choosing him.
The story starts a little slow: I kept asking myself why I cared about this guy. The investment is worth it. As I read, I started to understand that the author was showing me around the town and trying to give me some basis in the day-to-day life of a compulsive gambler. About half-way through the book, the story gets humming, and the character molding makes sense, and the resolution is satisfying and surprising.
My advice? If you like realistic fiction, that's a little dangerous, with some great dark humor, read Good Money After Bad. But be sure to take a shower afterward.
Using Wrigley Field, the home ballpark of baseball's Chicago Cubs, a team well-known for misfortune and losing, Evans sets a tone of doom that builds throughout his winning debut.
Like holding a pair of aces and jacks in your hand, you won't want to put this one down. Evans doesn't disappoint all the way to the end when he gives the reader a thrilling and surprsing payoff.
Put your money down on this one. "Good Money After Bad" is certainly a good bet.