Reader reviews and comments on The Ballad of a Small Player, plus links to write your own review.

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Ballad of a Small Player

by Lawrence Osborne

The Ballad of a Small Player
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2014, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2015, 272 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Elena Spagnolie

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

Page 1 of 1
There is 1 reader review for The Ballad of a Small Player
Order Reviews by:

Write your own review!

Bonnie Brody (04/06/14)

Osborne Knows Well the Emotional Realm of the Gambling Addict
Lord Doyle isn't really a Lord though he is called Lord Doyle in Macau. He is a crooked lawyer from England who has transplanted himself to Macau in order to gamble away the money that he has embezzled from an elderly English client. Macau is west of Hong Kong, in Mainland China, and this is where Doyle plays his game of choice, Baccarat. For most of the book, he plays in a casino called Lisboa but he travels to other casinos in Hong Kong from time to time. He is nonchalant about the game whether he wins or loses, and, as with most gambling addicts, his luck goes up and down.

Baccarat is a quick card game and a dangerous one. "It is hard for the house to cheat at baccarat, and there is a satisfying instant gratification to its simplicity and relative speed. It kills you quickly." One can see from this quote that there is an element of the masochistic to Doyle's gambling. It is usually a very high stakes game. "When you play it your heart is in your mouth." "That's what I like about it. There's no lingering illusion. Death by guillotine."

Osborne well knows the thinking and emotional realm of the gambling addict. "One is never far enough ahead to quit." There is an obsession, a compulsion to keep on with the playing until the last bit of money is lost. Sleep is foregone, as is often food and relationships. All that exists for the gambler is the bet. As a clinical social worker, I am well aware that the highest rate of suicide for all addictions is that of the gambler. Doyle, in this novel, comes close to suicide on more than one occasion.

Doyle meets a Chinese prostitute names Dao-Ming in Macau when he is down on his luck. She takes him to her home and helps him to recuperate from his losses, his poor health and his days of not sleeping. To repay her, he steals her money. To be fair, however, he is smitten with her. Gambling just does not give him time to look her up.

The book is very depressing. We see gamblers all begging each other for loans which one knows will never be repaid. "We all had a scheme and the pity of it was that none of us knew what the scheme was." Lady luck just can't be beaten no matter how much magical thinking is used. Doyle likes to pick a certain room to gamble in and wear yellow gloves when he plays baccarat. This is not uncommon with gamblers. They all have a shtick that they believe will bring them good luck.

The book is seriously depressing. Watching an addict go deeper into their addiction is a ride through hell and this book reminded me of the movie, Leaving Las Vegas. No matter how much money Doyle wins, it isn't enough. "The reality was that the more money I made, the more trapped I felt. Should I play on and on until doomsday, until I started losing again and balance was restored? This is how a hardened gambler would think. It doesn't matter to him, because what matters is the roller coaster, the wind in his hair, the thrill. He plays until he runs out of money."
  • Page
  • 1

Beyond the Book:
  Macau

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    by Bryn Greenwood
    Bryn Greenwood's debut, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, is a harsh, raw, and ultimately, truthful...
  • Book Jacket: Hot Milk
    Hot Milk
    by Deborah Levy
    When people reach their early 20s, they often choose to go abroad – they want to get away from...
  • Book Jacket: Ninety-Nine Stories of God
    Ninety-Nine Stories of God
    by Joy Williams
    I have to preface this review by saying that I am not a fan of religious fiction - not even books ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Ashes of Fiery Weather
    by Kathleen Donohoe

    "Admirers of Pete Hamill and Kate Atkinson will appreciate this gripping novel." - Library Journal

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Underground Airlines
    by Ben Winters

    "The Invisible Man meets Blade Runner in this outstanding alternate history thriller." - PW Star

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Circling the Sun
by Paula McLain

An intoxicatingly vivid portrait of colonial Kenya and its privileged inhabitants.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.