New York Times-bestselling author James McManus offers up a collection of seven linked stories narrated by Vincent Killeen, an Irish Catholic altar boy, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Persuaded at age eight by his grandmother that entering the priesthood will guarantee salvation for every member of his family, Vince eagerly commits to attending a Jesuit seminary for high school. As the meaning of a vow of celibacy becomes clearer to him, however, and he is exposed to the irresistible temptations of poker and girls, life as a seminarian begins to seem less appealing. These autobiographical stories are enlightening and evocative, providing keen, often humorous insight into Catholicism, faith, celibacy and its opposite, as well as into America’s—and increasingly the world’s—favorite card game.
“With this plainspoken, highly readable coming-of-age story, McManus adds another winning hand to a growing body of work on the hearts and souls lost to the game of poker.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred
“What John R. Powers did for Catholic boys on the South Side of Chicago in his classic memoir Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? (1975), McManus does for their counterparts in suburban Chicago . . . This is well-trod ground, of course, but McManus enlivens the familiar material with zesty prose that goes beyond the jokes to capture that ever-melancholy transition from innocence to experience.”—Booklist
“In writing about poker Jim McManus has managed to write about everything, and it’s glorious.”—David Sedaris
“McManus has captured a Chicago Catholic kid’s universe with an accuracy that made me laugh. A royal flush. Bravo!”—Sandra Cisneros
“Reading The Education of a Poker Player, I realized I had completely forgotten what it had been like to be a boy. McManus remembers it exactly. There are many things to admire—the delights of the Kennedy era Catholic household, the movement of a mind through time—but what stuck with me most was how McManus nails it dead: being a kid isn’t anything like being an adult. Instead it is something stranger, something wilder, and something we shouldn’t forget. Consumed with desire for girls, a place in the clergy, and a secret obsession with a certain gambling game that is played with 52 cards, McManus’s narrator will help you reclaim something you may have lost. Pick up this book.”—Jesse Ball
“The Education of a Poker Player is a thoroughly refreshing read, and you know that with McManus you’re going to get an engaging journey. McManus has been there and done it, and he certainly speaks with the voice of experience.”—Sam Marsden, Jackpot.co.uk
© BOA Editions, Ltd. 2015