Saturday, June 5, 2010

Review: The Gamble

My Synopsis:

The Gamble (Loss of Certainty series - Book 2) by T.P. Jones

(For review from Phenix Publicity)

The town of Jackson, Iowa has lost a lot. One of the major industries in the area has closed the meat-packing plant that provided many jobs for Jackson's townspeople. They are relying on bringing in new industry and the new dog track that is being constructed to revitalize their community and get them back on track. Unfortunately, the reputation of their town has come to the attention of the country as well as future investors. Jackson's new mayor, El Plowman has decided to try to "recruit" young black executives to move to Jackson in order to promote racial harmony. But, this obviously isn't what most of the citizens of Jackson want.

The town's museum created a wonderful exhibit to honor the life of a black man in the community, but the exhibit was destroyed by vandals, brining up the long held views of a lot of the townspeople. Prejudice is alive and well in Jackson. Now, the mayor has decided to allow more contractors to bid on jobs for the dog track and unexpectedly a black contractor wins the bid. There are signs of trouble amongst the workers as they gear up for their new co-workers to begin. A famous Klu Klux Klan member will be speaking in Jackson and their is unrest in every corner.

In the midst of all the trouble, the city workers in Jackson continue to try to make their community work. To try to bring them together. But, are they only making matters worse? Will the dog track project see trouble with the new contractor? Will El's bid for mayor be successful? Will the spring floods threaten to destroy everything they've worked for? Is it all just a gamble?

My Thoughts:

At 500 pages, The Gamble is the second in a series of books about a small mid-western community, called Jackson. Author T.P. Jones has created the Loss of Certainty series to chronicle the struggle of the cities workers as they go about their lives and business of making the community survive and thrive. They have gone through the devastation of losing one of their top industries the meat-packing plant in the first book, Jackson. Now in the second book, The Gamble they face the ugly truth of racism in their community.

I know there a many small towns in the U.S. where this type of thing probably still goes on. The town I live in is small but we do have a University and that has provided us with a more diversified community. I am thankful that in my life time I have not had to see this type of mentality. One of the things that I found interesting in the way the author dealt with this subject was the idea that people can be prejudice and not even realize it or acknowledge it unless something happens to bring it to the forefront.

This novel is not what I would consider a stand alone book. At the end of the novel you are still left wondering what is going to happen to the town and the characters. But, there is an advantage to that, because you really look forward to that next book coming out so you can find out what happens. The characters in the book, were very well developed, you were able to see into their hearts almost. To see their losses of their own certainty in their lives. I liked this book a lot.

The Gamble is available now at your favorite bookseller.

I give this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Here is some more information about the author, T.P. Jones.

In the sixth grade, given the assignment of writing a one-page story, I wrote 37 pages. That ignited my life-long interest in fiction writing, although much time and numerous sidetracks were to ensue before the child's dream became the adult's reality. Now, many years later, The Loss of Certainty trilogy begins my literary career.

I grew up in Foxboro, Massachusetts, a semi-rural town 25 miles south of Boston, then moved as a young man to Kennebunkport on the south coast of Maine, where I learned something of the writer's craft as a reporter on the local weekly newspaper over summer vacations. After college and a stint in the Army Reserve (during the Vietnam War), I obtained an MFA from the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop, studying with Kurt Vonnegut. He was writing
Slaughterhouse Five at the time and just beginning to become an iconic literary figure. From Vonnegut I learned the value of writing to entertain whatever the seriousness of the underlying message, but I did not yet become a writer. All I mastered of the writing life at the Workshop was the drinking part.

Leaving Iowa, my future wife Elisabeth and I moved to San Francisco (where else?) and I obtained work editing the employee magazine for a division of the Singer company, more writing, to be sure, but oh, so far from what I wished to do. On the side, I attempted a little fiction, not much and nothing any good. In truth, I had no subject matter, no compelling idea to entice me irresistibly back to the typewriter after a day of turning out stories about punch press operators and management directives. Two years of this and I decided a little indirection was called for, specifically a career that didn't have anything to do with writing. And thus we moved to Connecticut and I became a mathematics teacher. Don't ask.

I taught. I gave up drinking. And during the summers, after the lapse of several years, I began once again to write, beginning from scratch, the search for a subject. Work and politics were topics that had, I thought, been too much ignored by American fiction writers, and so I decided I would tell a story about city politics and use
Moby Dick as my model, the finest work novel in the canon. Where Melville described life on a whaler, however, I'd write about local government, and where Melville had a white whale, I'd have a massive flood. All well and good, except that even with a subject matter in hand, I still could not see how to make the novel work.


Rick said...

You do the most wonderfully thoughtful reviews. I know I've told you this before, but they really are marvelous!

My family is from the south and we moved to Detroit, so the general theme of racism still disturbs me more with each passing years. I'll definitely buy this book and give it a serious read.

Llehn said...

The premise is interesting. This is not something I would normally read but there's so much going on so that I am intrigued.