Fear and Whining in Las Vegas
Sprinkled among the reviews for my book “The Smart Money” like so many dog droppings upon an emerald lawn, several notices emanating from Las Vegas — where much of the book’s action take place — have claimed profound disappointment with my use of nicknames for some of the characters. These dismayed critics seem to think that by calling a huge movie star “Captain Beefcake” instead of his real name or a famous bookie “Super Moe Farakis” instead of his familiar name somehow makes my story “confusing.” One writer inexplicably wondered in print if the book was half memoir, half novel, or, as he clumsily put it, “half man, half beast.”
Apparently these reviewers missed the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book. It states very clearly that I’ve changed names and some identifying details to protect individual privacy. Otherwise, just like it says on the cover in 24-point type, the book is a memoir.
These guys are allegedly Vegas insiders. They know I’m not making it up.
Worse than the strange reasoning that equates changing a name with fictionalizing the whole incredible story is the disingenuousness of the Vegas-based reviewers who claim to be terribly frustrated with the nicknames. One writer, who supposedly has heard (or read) every gambling story told in Vegas for the past 30 years, went so far as to wonder in print, “Who are these guys?” Trust me, he — and everyone else who lives and works in the Vegas gambling industry — knows exactly who the characters in my book are. He’s just sorry I didn’t use their names in print and risk an expensive lawsuit.
What’s sad about these “reviews” is that they’re so obsessed with who is called what that they don’t bother to mention that “The Smart Money” is a groundbreaking, never-before-told story that anyone with even a hint of interest in sports gambling, Vegas intrigue, or the underbelly of the American Dream will find interesting, if not riveting. Somehow the great appeal of this book — the story — is less important to these Vegas scribes than dragging names through the dirt.
I’m dismayed that in Las Vegas, the one market where the press could reasonably be expected to “get it,” they clearly don’t.