Alexander J. Allison


25 Points: The Prodigal

prodigalThe Prodigal
by Alexander J. Allison
Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2013
194 pages/ $12 buy from Amazon










2. Allison’s novel “The Prodigal” explores the nature of a man born with a silver spoon, his relationship to his parents, to school, to his best friend David and most importantly, to Poker. The protagonist’s name is Martin and you will follow him through a series physical, financial and existential crises in this portrait/cringe-theatre/road-trip/gambling novel.

3. In conjunction with reading this novel, I started playing online poker.

4. This is a very helpful companion to The Prodigal

5. Three structural features of the novel include:

a) varied text size. At times a word will or series of words will appear in large, irregular font to point out a particular emotion or event. I have seen Ben Brooks do this. Is it a British thing?

b) italicized asides like “Sad shadows  saddows”. These are humorous plays on words or ideas hat break the text with an unpunctuated breath.

c) Flashback chapters which operate similar to Lost episodes, connective tissues are formed showing why Martin is fucked.

6. To start, I downloaded an App simply called “Poker” onto my Ipad. I started with 10,000 dollars. What endears one about the game is just how fucking simple it all seems at first. Each individual game consists of a few small choices. There is lying involved as well as the puffing-up of chests. This is a very inhuman way to play poker, it is fast-paced, difficult to read people, and deeply anti-social. There is no ‘chat’ feature in “Poker” and most of my opponents are faceless guests. My first day into “Poker” ended with a 45,000 dollar profit.

Diary note: This game is a joke. People who play it are morons/addicts.

Three days later, I would be swishing cuticle treads around in my mouth praying to god before the river of a shitty flop. I was hounded with insecurities and sleeplessness. Poker was no longer a joke but an insipid nightmare I continued to return to. I’d entered into the realm of pay-to-play online poker and my budget had been exhausted thrice over.

Diary note: I’ll do it for the novel.

7. Martin in a casino:

“This microcosm has its own language. It’s a living lexicon. The game’s language exists to keep some fools out and trap even bigger fools in You’ll have heard of donkeys and fish, but what of the rockets? What of the fishhooks and gay waiters? What of the suck and resuck, the gutshots and wraps and double bellybusters? What space is there for a beat jackpot? What is there left to be said of tilt? Who is durrrr to you? What’s an isildur1? How would you respond to OMGClayAiken? What is life before you’ve sharkscoped Spirit Rock, nanonoko, moorman1? This language is the soul of poker. Cards are but a blunt instrument. Cards are the messy, unpredictable side note to the sport. It is cards, however which force the drama of life.

Internally, Martin is humming the Pink Panther theme-tune. This makes him feel sneaky.”

8. On 7 alone you should read this book.

9. The book says much of what many books say about being 20 is like: the depressing vacancy one achieves when the last drop of innocence leaves you. But the metaphor of poker intermingled with this prodigal/rich kid presents the reader with the quandary of: how do I root for this guy? The path I took was not so much to root, but to sit down and enter Martin and ride from one catastrophe to another. The balance of sincerity and humor comes off sardonic, but the smiles feel earned and cringes unavoidable.

10. donk bet

1      A bet made by a donk, i.e. one that is generally considered weak or to demonstrate inexperience or lack of understanding of strategy.

2      A bet made in early position by a player who didn’t take initiative in the previous betting round. It was named because this move is often considered indicative of a weak player (since it is more often reasonable to expect a continuation bet). READ MORE >

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April 16th, 2013 / 2:33 pm