about the Gambler
In June 1969, Victor Sinclare leaves conservative Cincinnati, Ohio, to join a former high school friend for a summer job in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Victor is 1-A in the Draft, flunking out of college, reeling from the news that a fraternity brother has been killed in Vietnam, and running from the inevitable disappointment he is about to be to his parents. Victor is habitually stoned, drinking too much, frustrated at sex, tormented by dreams and feeling smothered by his hometown. He is bewildered about his future and Tahoe seems as good a place as any to avoid himself and the world.
Between June and October, in the stifling kitchen of The Mine Shaft Casino, a popular local destination known for its cheap, twenty-four hour smorgasbord, Victor meets the first real characters of his life. For him, the transients, drinkers, braggers, dopers, women, womanizers, cheats, gamblers and reputed Mafioso are romantic, welcome distractions. But the darkness of 1969 reaches him nonetheless. Men walk on the moon with immediate and devastating consequences, Woodstock beckons, friends vanish and Vietnam encroaches. Victor is permanently altered, and none have more influence on him than Lee, the stylish and self-destructive night chef, a dubious mentor who might be a remarkable man of the world, a simple and tragic drunk, or possibly both.
Finally, one by one, the summer crew moves on, including Lee, until it is just Victor. And only after an explosive and violent incident is he finally forced to confront his future. Victor makes an emotional sprint down the California coast to Mexico and onto New Orleans, then north. On the side of a road in Mississippi he finally faces his truth.