Tony Korfman’s poker book has been sitting on the bottom shelf of my office library for almost five years, gathering dust.
Make that Korfman’s two books. For some reason, two copies were sent to me — unsolicited. He either really, really wanted me to write a book review. Or, his agent is a royal screw up.
Wait, Tony Korfman has an agent?
For those who don’t know Korfman, how shall I describe him? His bio page says he was “born in New York, raised by seagulls in San Francisco, and now lives in Las Vegas.” These days, he’s usually camped out in some dumpy poker room, wearing a leather logo-laden NASCAR bomber jacket that has to be hot as blazes during the summertime. I mean who wears a leather bomber jacket when its 115 degrees outside?
Tony Korfman! That’s who!
I have no idea what compelled me to crack open his book a few days ago following such a long hibernation. Like a forgotten classic Montrachet, it’s been there in the book cellar aging forever, aching to be opened for all the floral splendor to be enjoyed.
“Free will” has been a hot topic lately. Indeed, it’s been the crux of philosophical debate for a very long time.
The question is – do we have it?
Are we really in control of our decisions, our actions, and ultimately our destiny? And if so, how much power do we actually have over the forces that influence (some would say — “control”) us?.
The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman recently has, temporarily at least, brought this ongoing debate to a much wider audience. In fact, I’m not sure I’d be writing this essay were it not for the ensuing discussion about how much control the now-deceased actor had over his own life.
Imagine a Guy Ritchie movie, only for real.
That’s the life story of Andrew “Giddy” Perendes — a professional poker player, jewel thief, and silver-tongued charmer who has witnessed the gritty dark side of London’s underground gambling scene up close and personal for nearly 50 years. His tale is one of survival as much as adventure. Imagine following an alley cat around, and that’s pretty much the picture.
What book has impacted you the most?
Mull that question over for a moment or two.
Pretty tough, huh?
Try to choose a single book, among the many thousands of titles out there, which changed the direction of your life in some way. Perhaps the book you’re considering made you think about yourself differently. Maybe it changed the way you see the world, or took you to a different time and place.
Then again, choosing a favorite book is probably an impossible task. Like asking a parent to pick out their favorite child. Unconscionable, even. Indeed, all books are unique. Books not only mean different things to different people, they’re also open to different interpretations at various points in our lives. A book read at age 20 might not seem like the same book at age 40 — since that book is likely to have a completely different impact. But the book hasn’t changed. We change.
Louis Zamperini’s name is a probably unfamiliar to you, that is, unless you’ve read Lauren Hillenbrand’s second book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. By this time next year, you most certainly will know of this book and his name as well as his incredible story, since it’s being made into a movie. Unbroken is scheduled for release in December 2014. A review of the book follows.
Laura Hillenbrand is one of the best American writers living today.
She’s written only two books, but both are incontestable masterpieces. A decade ago, she penned Seabiscuit, the remarkable true story of a thoroughbred racehorse during the 1930s which captured working-class America’s imagination and inspired a generation through the Great Depression.
Her more recent book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption is no less inspiring and just as compelling.
Unbroken tells the true story of Louis Zamperini, who lived one of the most extraordinary lives of any human being of the 20th Century. True to the book’s title, Zamperini’s life was one of survival, resilience, and redemption, disseminated here across 473 breathtaking pages of narrative. His was a remarkable life meriting the skills of our best writer, with an intense love of storytelling and a masterful talent for descriptive detail.