I finally finished The Dice Man. It took a while and I thought I’d given up a number of times, but in the interests of completiveness (should be a word), I persevered.
Picture if you will a successful, but not the most successful, psychiatrist in New York in the 1970s. The novel opens with Dr Luke Rhinehart grappling with how dull he feels his life has become. His professional rival, Dr Jake Ecstein, seems to have everything so much better. Plus, he’s got a totty wife who Luke would rather like to bang. The reader is constantly reminded of Luke’s hugeness of stature so that the notion that he ‘just doesn’t fit’ is embedded. It’s a useful one to remember.
By chance (of course) Luke discovers a ‘dice life’. At first, his ‘gambling’ is a useful way to alleviate his boredom, although the stakes were shockingly high on his first exercise. As his dicelife (one word) continues, it becomes a habit, a requirement, an obsession, a fetish and a religion. Eventually, Luke stakes everything on the whim of the dice, including his professional and personal reputations, and ultimately his sanity. The novel ends on something of a cliff-hanger (if the reader cares), which was a sure sign of a follow-up. I was just glad to reach the end, frankly.
not terrible good stuff. It’s an entertaining and daring concept, and it leaves an impact with the reader. The irony of a psychiatrist losing his mind shouldn’t be lost on anyone, even if it’s a cliché which has been played out all too often in many different scenarios. There’s no doubt that as a piece of writing, much of the last third was unnecessary and repetitious, but I’m not going to complain about that too much because once I reached the end, I knew that I was glad I’d finished it (and probably glad that I wouldn’t have to read it again). I won’t be bothering with The Search for the Dice Man or The Book of the Die because it’s starting to feel a little like a franchise and I’ve seen enough, but I’m glad I’ve finally read The Dice Man to see what all the fuss is about.
If you’re going on any excursions or trips this year and you fear you may get bored, grab a copy of this in the airport. It’ll see you through for a while.
I’ve since finished The Porcupine but Julian Barnes, but that’s for another day.