23 June 2009

Double Down


I read "Double Down" by Frederick and Steven Barthelme recently, after reading a piece in the New Yorker about a new biography of Donald Barthelme that mentions the book, which is about his two brothers (also fiction writers) blowing half of their inheritance at casinos in two years, a quarter of a million dollars. The gambling spree took place following their father's death, which was preceded by their mother's death a little more than a year before, and Donald Barthelme's death in 1989.

I saw a black and white french movie about gambling a few years ago (I can't remember the name or find it on the internet). I don't think it was a very good movie, but I found it strangely compelling, probably because I've never done anything remotely like gambling, nor have I even been in a casino. I don't imagine that I could ever become a gambling addict (I would need some money first) but it's crazy to watch it happen to other people (even fictional ones).

This obviously isn't about a conspiracy theory, but in the end the two brother's are kicked out of one of the casino's and then sued for "conspiracy." It was interesting to read about the legal definition of a conspiracy. So, after spending a year or more in this one casino, losing around $100,000 over that time, the owners accused Frederick and Steven of having a sexual relationship with one of the dealers (who was known as Big Cindy), and using signals to help them win. It's bizarre, because, the motivation for that fiction is unclear. The Barthelme's weren't stealing their money, they were giving them tons of it. They had been going for over a year and showed no signs of quitting. Why would the casino want to get rid of people who were presumably their best customers? Did someone just get bored one day and construct a basically unrealistic conspiracy?

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