Double Down is a true story, a terrifying roller-coaster ride deep into the heart of two men, and into the world of floating Gulf Coast casinos. When both of their parents died within a short time of each other, the writers Frederick and Steven Barthelme, both professors of English in Mississippi, inherited a goodly sum of money. What followed was a binge during which they gambled away their entire fortune-and more. And then, in a cruel twist of fate, they were charged with cheating at the tables.
Told with a mixture of sadness and wry humor, and with a compelling look at the physical aura of gambling-the feel of the cards, the smell of the crowd, the sounds of the tables- Double Down is a reflection on the lure of challenging the odds, the attraction of stepping into the void. A cautionary tale (the brothers were eventually exonerated), it is a book that, once read, will never be forgotten.
"For the Barthelmes [Double Down] suggests the dual downward spiral they suffered in losing so much money and their parents in a short span of time. They relate both stories in a style so seamless that it's hard to tell you are reading a collaboration." The New York Times
"The Barthelmes recount in vivid detail and with good psychological insight the trauma of coping with that dual loss." The Washington Post
"Double Down is an astounding book--lucid and hypnotic. I read it as if witnessing a not-so-small miracle in which a fall from grace is inverted, mid-air, and turned into a fall toward grace. It is clean and crisp and important." -- Rick Bass
"Anyone who buys into the insane conclusion that casino gambling is good for a community should read this book. Double Down is one of the best firsthand accounts ever written about organized gambling. Like Goodman Brown, taking a walk with a hooded stranger into the darkness of the New England woods, the Barthelme brothers suddenly find themselves inside the maw of the monster. The compulsion to control, to intuit the future, to be painted by magic, could not be better or more accurately described." -- James Lee Burke, author of Burning Angel and Cadillac Jukebox)
"Whoever invented gambling knew something about human nature the rest of us have to keep rediscovering. Double Down is a gripping read." --Larry Brown
"Frederick and Steven Barthelme have written one of the great books on gambling--a memoir of guilt, frustration, the wickedness of American justice, and, above all, the hair-raising rush of the action." --Thom Jones
"I really enjoyed Double Down--I loved going along vicariously into the world of casinos. The Barthelme brothers write in a remarkably unified voice, and I was especially intrigued and moved by their analysis of themselves as grown-up children because they are childless. It's a very compelling narrative." --Bobbie Ann Mason
"'Double Down' is a good gambling story, maybe worth every penny the Barthelmes lost." - reviewed by Ann Fabian The Chicago Tribune
"The tale they have to tell is far more richly complicated--and haunting--than any their lawyer could present...By turns dazzingly canny and achingly abject, the Barthelmes, who write in a single voice, lure the reader into the intimacy of their self-deception." Publishers Weekly, Starred
About the Authors:
Frederick Barthelme is the author of eleven books, most recently BOB THE GAMBLER and THE PAINTED DESERT. He directs the writing program at the University of Southern Mississippi and edits the literary journal Mississippi Review. Mr. Barthelme currently lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.