Book Review"Bet High-Kiss Low"

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Anthony DeAngelo

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Apr 24, 2001, 3:09:41 PM4/24/01
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I just finished reading Grady Mathews' book "Bet High, Kiss Low" and
thought maybe one person out in cyberspace would be interested in my
review. First, I think it's noteworthy that I sent a check to Grady on
a monday and the book arrived maybe ten minutes later. More on that
later.
I'll forego any suspense by telling you straight out that I liked the
book and recommend it to anyone interested in pool subculture and the
road life in particular. Still, my "thumbs up" is not without
reservation, but first let's look at the good stuff. Anyone who has
ever listened to Grady on Accu-Stats and liked him (and anybody who has
disliked him is not the sort of person I want to have reading this)
will, I believe, like this book. Grady names names and pulls few, if
any punches. There's a lot to like. There are a lot of pictures and
the one of "Bucktooth" alone is worth the price of the book (readers of
"Playing off the Rail" will remember Tooth).
The image of Grady driving along blindly in the rain, looking for his
disgruntled girlfriend, only to turn on his windshield wipers and see
his bankroll fly out from under the blades is one that will stay with
you. Similerly, a number of Grady's big wins are recorded, complete
with figures. For most of us (I'll bet) it is a vicarious thrill.
Grady emerges as a likable, stand-up guy. I can't imagine him not
keeping his word, and the swiftness of this books arrival is, I am sure,
no coincidence. He said if I sent him a check he'd send me a book and
by God as soon as he got that check the book went out. As most of you
know, not everyone works this way. Still, although Grady shares some
emotion with us (especially the bawdy kind) there is a lot that is left
unsaid that could have been explored. I'm thinking specifically about
the moments that changed his life's direction. They sort of just
happened "boom" all at once in the book.
Technically, this book is quite flawed and not anywhere near the level
of read from a McCumber or Byrne (moment of silence for one of my
favorite writers please). There are many misspelled words and names
(i.e. Johnson City, Effren Reyes, Benzinger's pool room, Robert Burns,
etc.). So much so that it actually becomes somewhat distracting. The
book begins in the third person and abruptly swithces. If this was to
be a literary device, I submit it failed. The chief shortcoming of this
book though is the use of the first person. We see Grady's view of
himself, and as we all know we don't view ourselves the way others see
us. There were times in the narrative when I really wished I could have
listened to someone else's take on the story. Times when, by reading
between the lines, things didn't quite square, or seemed to be even more
dramatic or interesting than they were dipicted.
By the end of the book I was really wishing that Grady had collaberated
with Robert Byrne on this, and then Grady drops a bombshell-he almost
did! At one point his story was supposed to be told by a real writer
(no offense meant to Grady-after all I'm sure he could spot Byrne the 7
ball, and probably play McCumber one-handed) and Grady narrowed it to 2
guys-the guy who screwed it up and lost the job, and "Robert Burns"
(sic). Get this: Grady decided against Byrne BECAUSE of McGoorty! (I'd
review McGoorty but I'd sound like Robert Byrne's PR man). Basically
Grady felt that he didn't want to be lumped together with a drunken bum
like Danny McGoorty. What a pity, IMO. I think Grady missed the point
(of McGoorty). Had Danny McGoorty told his own story we would have
thought he was a dispicable loser, devoid of any redeeming qualities
whatsoever. By having Robert Byrne tell his story we get a completely
different picture of the man.
Anyway, those are the pluses and minuses of Bet High, Kiss Low. It is
flawed to be sure, but on balance it is entertaining, and you're not
going to hear these stories anywhere else (and they're great stories,
most of them). It's seventeen bucks you cheap pricks, so what are you
waiting for?

Bradley E. Robertson

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Apr 24, 2001, 8:32:26 PM4/24/01
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Okay Grady, my check goes out in the morning mail.

Brad . . . who would like it autographed

Anthony DeAngelo revieewed Grady Mathews' book "Bet High, Kiss Low"


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