Facing the idiosyncrasies of his life and character, David Lazar mercilessly analyses his success. Can we accept irreconcilable contradictions? Can people change? And what does it mean to be human? Peeling layers of conventions and domestication, Lazar is gradually facing the man he once was, his past emotionless and cold existence. He cannot help but wonder: is he still that man or has the love of his wife redeemed him? Can a driven sports handicapper, who climbed 'Mt. Gamble' to become the most successful professional handicapper of his generation, become a loving, devoted husband and father? Can writing his life story purge his flaws?
The puzzle of life's inconsistencies grows as Lazar is baffled by his clandestine meetings in his NYC penthouse with Duck, the US president. They go way back when David was Duck's object of admiration. These days Duck represents everything Lazar rejects: racism, greed, callousness. The two of them mirror all that is opposed in American society and echo the doubt whether these dividing gaps can be bridged. And while Lazar dislikes these secret meetings he is turning into Duck's confidant, knowing all too well that he is acting against the people he loves.
The fragility of existence is further exacerbated by the spread of Covid-19. The presence of death is more tangible than ever. However, counting his blessings only intensifies the fear of loss. Lazar is trying to help the needy, but the knowledge of his own limitations and all that is still required haunts him. And the old, battered question is as relevant as ever: what is then the meaning of it all?
There is no straight answer, but as Lazar's identical twin brother observes, David did everything wrong, and yet bounced back lucky in his old age.
Robert Kalich is a born-and-bred New Yorker. He is the author of several non-fiction books and four novels. Three of his novels are works of autofiction based on his life and intimate knowledge of sports and gambling.
"In this exciting and wholly unpredictable second sequel (to The Handicapper and 2019’s David Lazar), the one-time handicapper is back, a wealthy octogenarian facing aging, his latter-years zeal to make sure his life meant something ... Kalich deftly illuminates the drift of mind of a regretful millionaire reflecting back ... (Kalich’s) storytelling is sharp-elbowed but thoughtful, committed to exposing persuasive real-life details and ethical quandaries ...The ending is a surprising jolt, hopeful and cutting at once, compelling literary comedy laced with truth and outrage." -- Publishers Weekly Lightning Bolt, Booklife Reviews
"Kalich knows the worlds of sports and betting, and fans of both will take pleasure in this trip down memory lane." --Kirkus Reviews