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Hats & Eyeglasses: A Family Love Affair with Gambling Hardcover – February 14, 2008

4.9 out of 5 stars 129 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A soft-pedaling memoir by journalist Frankel fondly recalls growing up in the Bronx and Queens, N.Y., learning to play poker from her dad and uncles, which would later become her obsession. As a kid Frankel absorbed the numbers-canny ways of her relatives, who doled out gambling advice such as the reference in the title to a ship's sinking, leaving only hats and eyeglasses floating on the surface. With the death of her beloved father, known as the Pencil because he was a CPA, Frankel's big dreams deflated and she largely drifted through school, a first marriage and drug use, before meeting woodworker Steve. She moved to Woodstock, N.Y., and, through friends, began writing celebrity interviews for magazines like Details. An idea for writing a screenplay about a poker player brought her into close contact with her ex-con cousin Keith, who had taught her how to play. From regular Wednesday night poker games with her friend Sal's group of hard-pickled males, where she learned how not to play like a girl, to an all-poker cruise to casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., and L.A., she gravitated to playing online, which enthralled her—and emptied her bank account. As she explains in this frank and unaffected memoir, shame brought her back to her family and closer to her mother. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Fun and full of life. I've known Martha Frankel for twenty years and "Hats & Eyeglasses" was still surprising. A wonderful book." -Jane Smiley, author of "Ten Days in the Hills" and "A Year at the Races" "A bluntly honest memoir of gambling addiction-harrowing, funny, and compulsively readable, straight through to the end." -John Berendt, author of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and "The City of Falling Angels" ""Hats & Eyeglasses" is a hamische tour de force. With a warm voice and a light touch, Martha Frankel's account of growing up with gambling pays off, big-time. My bet is on her as she both enshrines and kicks her compulsion. Entertaining and enlightening, this is a must for memoir addicts, and a fine debut for the author." -Laura Shaine Cunningham, author of "Sleeping Arrangements" and "Beautiful Bodies"

"[This] Honest, funny betting memoir rises to the top... Frankel's lively storytelling allows her to turn her own crapola into a winner."
-"USA Today"
"In five minutes you will feel not only as if you have known [Martha] all your life, but as if you still have one of her sweaters."
-"The New York Times"
"Intimate, exuberant"
-"O, The Oprah Magazine"
"Sparse and honest writing"
-"The Associated Press"
"Fast-paced and amazingly funny"
-"New Orleans Times-Picayune"
"[A] frank and unaffected memoir"
-"Publishers Weekly"
"Fearless... powerful, even uplifting and funny."
-"The New York Post"
"Fun and full of life. I've known Martha Frankel for twenty years and "Hats & Eyeglasses" was still surprising. A wonderful book." -Jane Smiley, author of "Ten Days in the Hills" and "A Year at the Races" "A bluntly honest memoir of gambling addiction-harrowing, funny, and compulsively readable, straight through to the end." -John Berendt, author of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and "The City of Falling Angels" ""Hats & Eyeglasses" is a hamische tour de force. With a warm voice and a light touch, Martha Frankel's account of growing up with gambling pays off, big-time. My bet is on her as she both enshrines and kicks her compulsion. Entertaining and enlightening, this is a must for memoir addicts, and a fine debut for the author." -Laura Shaine Cunningham, author of "Sleeping Arrangements" and "Beautiful Bodies"

a[This] Honest, funny betting memoir rises to the top... Frankelas lively storytelling allows her to turn her own crapola into a winner.a
a"USA Today"
"In five minutes you will feel not only as if you have known [Martha] all your life, but as if you still have one of her sweaters."
a"The New York Times"
aIntimate, exuberanta
a"O, The Oprah Magazine"
aSparse and honest writinga
a"The Associated Press"
aFast-paced and amazingly funnya
a"New Orleans Times-Picayune"
a[A] frank and unaffected memoira
a"Publishers Weekly"
aFearlessa] powerful, even uplifting and funny.a
a"The New York Post"
"Fun and full of life. I've known Martha Frankel for twenty years and "Hats & Eyeglasses" was still surprising. A wonderful book." -Jane Smiley, author of "Ten Days in the Hills" and "A Year at the Races" "A bluntly honest memoir of gambling addiction-harrowing, funny, and compulsively readable, straight through to the end." -John Berendt, author of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and "The City of Falling Angels" ""Hats & Eyeglasses" is a hamische tour de force. With a warm voice and a light touch, Martha Frankel's account of growing up with gambling pays off, big- time. My bet is on her as she both enshrines and kicks her compulsion. Entertaining and enlightening, this is a must for memoir addicts, and a fine debut for the author." -Laura Shaine Cunningham, author of "Sleeping Arrangements" and "Beautiful Bodies"

aMartha Frankel . . . proves in her intimate, exuberant memoir that even in the face of a gambling addiction, frank self-appraisal and an armload of hugs can sometimes win the day.a
a"O, The Oprah Magazine"

?Martha Frankel . . . proves in her intimate, exuberant memoir that even in the face of a gambling addiction, frank self-appraisal and an armload of hugs can sometimes win the day.?
?"O, The Oprah Magazine"

"Martha Frankel . . . proves in her intimate, exuberant memoir that even in the face of a gambling addiction, frank self-appraisal and an armload of hugs can sometimes win the day."
-"O, The Oprah Magazine" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher (February 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585425583
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585425587
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,417,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Abbe Aronson on February 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a review copy, so I read it before publication...what a treat! Martha Frankel's amazingly real story of addiction highs and lows, mixed in with her spicy, sexy family trials and tribulations was utterly capitavating to me -- I related some of it to my own Jewish family craziness, while some of it was completely foreign to me (I've never played poker in my life.) But in both instances, I loved the honesty, the narrative, the direct voice, the whole thing! I actually read it in one day, so reluctant was I to put it down and when it was over, I longed for more...Hats off to Martha Frankel!!!!
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Format: Hardcover
From cover to cover, HATS & EYEGLASSES has got to be one of the most fascinating books I've read in a long long time. At once heartbreaking and entertaining, Martha Frankel's candid tale of growing up to a Jewish family life overflowing with food, gambling, and love, is one that you would not want to miss. Her ultimate downward spiral and eventual personal triumph will hold you captive till the very last page. I truly did laugh and cry, and learned some along the way. At times reminiscent of Damon Runyon, other times of Neil Simon, yet completely her own, Martha Frankel's HATS & EYEGLASSES is the kind of book you can gobble up in one seating, whether you are relaxing somewhere on the beach or sneaking precious private time before work. Read it, its a blast.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was shocked when I realized the age of this writer. The book reads as though written by someone very young, lacking wisdom of any kind. And the name dropping (OH, the name dropping!) is so gratuitous that it remains a major turnoff throughout (I could only make it to the halfway point.) You will never read a self-deprecating phrase - she is IN LOVE with herself. And that's great for her. But what makes a good memoir is honesty and grit. This lacks both.

Another thing: I LOVE writers like Mary Gaitskill and I look for REAL life in the books I read and I never shy away from harshness. There are some seriously vulgar moments in here that took me out of the story and, like the name-dropping, served little purpose other than shock value.

As much as I dislike this book I'm sure I'd like its author in person. She has a good sense of humor and spunk. I just think there was a better way to tell this story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a fun read! You truly appreciate the author's early family life around the poker and mahjong tables and cherish learning about the people who influenced her life. She brings these family members to the reader in such a kind and loving manner. And, when it comes to the Wednesday night poker games she portrays the players so vividly. Anyone who has played regularly around a poker table will truly get a kick out of these chapters. But, when the author reveals her online poker addiction, the reader feels empathy for the author as she "goes it alone". Whether or not you're a gambler, you'll enjoy this book!

Sylvia Rozzelle
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Format: Paperback
SPOILER ALERT - SPOILERS BELOW

This was a concise, funny, well-written memoir about one of my own hobbies (poker). I liked Frankel's writing style, down to earth and honest - most of all, it seems that she sees the humor in pretty much everything. The scenes of her parents and their friends are hilarious and touching, real and surreal (the part about Kevin and the balsamic vinegar had me laughing out loud).

When her gambling developed into an addiction to online poker, I was riveted. Then, I was annoyed (but not surprised) by the response of Gambling Anonymous. Finally, I was glad that Frankel still plays poker in her weekly game. Some people, no doubt, can never gamble again, just like alcoholics can never drink again, but Frankel was only addicted to online gambling. I'm glad she can still enjoy the game in real life.

I will never play online poker for money. Never. Well, maybe to get into the WSOP.
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Format: Paperback
You know that feeling when you're getting to the ending of a book that you are just enjoying so much and just wishing that another chapter or two will mysteriously appear? Well, that's how I felt reading Martha Frankel's Hats and Eyeglasses. Growing up in an Italian family is just too similar as growing up in a Jewish family (as my husband often tells me), so I could just relate to ALL of the family stuff. While I am not a poker player nor a card player, I just adored this wonderful book and look forward to Martha's next masterpiece! Buy this book...you will not regret it!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hats & Eyeglasses: A Family Love Affair with Gambling A delerious read demonstrating the strength of character Martha Frankel achieves after looking into the mirror. Her humor and desperation combine to rush the reader from page to page. This is one of those rare books that prohibits dropping out and compels you to stay in the pot to the end. There is magic on these pages. I heard the buzz, ordered the book in June and waited 'til yesterday for delivery. This is one of those waits that does not disappoint. What a wonderful family!
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Format: Paperback
Having been given this book as a gift, I may not have chosen to read it on my own. But that is what makes life so wonderful. This book takes you on a journey in addiction, depression, and redemption, but does in a way that is both charming and engrossing. Frankel makes you feel like one of her best friends and she seems like such a cool chick. I'm a slow reader who often rereads many passages, I don't just read a book I have a relationship with it. This book became a great part of my life and I recommend it to anyone.
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