This won’t be well received, but I’m going to write it any way. I’m giving up on James Lee Burke. I think his novels have become derivative . . . of James Lee Burke.
75. Francis Crick Discoverer of the Genetic Code, Matt Ridley. Biography, 8-3, p. 210
HarperColllins’ Eminent Lives series – a collection of brief biographies of a diverse group of notables – is a worthy successor to the Penguin Lives series. Matt Ridley’s biography of Francis Crick is an entertaining and informative read. Crick is an interesting figure, notable, if for no other reason, in that he was brilliant without being eccentric. As with any book about science or math (at least for me), the particulars challenge my comprehension, yet it is amazing how much of DNA and its components – the double helix, the sequence of the amino acid residues in proteins, the four types of nucleotides (adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine) – are remotely familiar.
James McManus’ highly entertaining Positively Fifth Street is a minor classic in the small, but fascinating genre of books devoted to poker. McManus wrote his book just before the sport(?) became a cultural phenomenon due to ESPN’s broadcast of the World Series of Poker. McManus went to Vegas to write an article for Harper’s magazine on the Ted Binion murder trial (of Binion's Horseshoe Casino fame) and the recent success of women in what had been an exclusive all-male club. A gambler at heart (“the heart of a cliff diver”), McManus blows part of his advance from Harper’s on a qualifying tournament for the WSOP. He not only qualifies for the WSOP, but reaches the final table; a stunning accomplishment for an amateur player. In addition to his coverage of the murder trial and a riveting account of his tournament play, McManus ponders his justification for a lap dance (research) and the psychological and emotional motivations of the gambler. Let’s just you can equate risk with sexual excitement, losing with sexual excitement, winning with sexual excitement and sexual excitement with, well, cards, chips and nubile, young lap dancers. Masturbation plays a role in there somewhere, too. Just read the book – it’s the nuts.