Now on Kindle, Jack Engelhard’s “The Prince of Dice,” featuring Julian Rothschild, the world’s greatest sharpshooter, a gambler blessed by supernatural gifts and such uncanny skills that it is said that he scoots those ivories for God. WHO IS JULIAN ROTHSCHILD Here
Reviews here by two of America’s leading writers, Linda Shelnutt and John W. Cassell:
Review of PoD posted Friday, April 13, 2012; 5:25 pm MDT
Review by Linda Shelnutt
of PRINCE OF DICE
by Jack Engelhard
Lamed Vov: Thirty-six Just Men: One Masterpiece of Literature.
In this novel Engelhard seriously and humbly reached to God Himself. It felt to me that this book touched God and He responded. Maybe all readers won’t comprehend that success, but I feel certain each reader will feel it.
The feelings I had while reading this book were precisely what I seek. I looked forward to the next time I could read another segment. I wanted to have more time more often to continue reading and resented anything causing me to retire too late to have an hour or more for reading. Yet I wanted to slow the reading because I wanted to have more of it left every time a lull allowed reading.
The writing style in this novel was subtly different from Engelhard’s other books which are so artfully composed, a fellow author can’t help but pause to admire the sheen of the syntax. In this book, the characters and story take over so completely there is no perceivable writing style. There is just the story and the characters.
Maybe that’s a feat beyond style, though I relish style, too.
Whatever way Engelhard puts together his novels, they work. They are enthralling enlightening reads exuding literary class with the cleanest writing style, or with the story taking all.
Turning to concepts and content in PRINCE OF DICE, I’ll refer to something Engelhard wrote in an essay about men not knowing what women want. I might add that women don’t know what they want, either. And I might ask whether men know what they want, or whether they even think they know what they want.
If a person knows what he wants and gets it, there is an experience of satisfaction which doesn’t dissolve with the next breath.
At least that’s my test of a person knowing what he wants.
Of course that would be qualified by the want of the moment, Vs the greater, deeper wants which we can’t always define, let alone isolate well enough to effectively pursue.
Yet, this book isn’t about the politics or desires of men and/or women, or about Right Vs Left. It isn’t about flat characters that reside in fake miens repeated with minor variations, for this book does not have a single flat character. It has only living human beings trapped willingly within a work of fiction.
I could understand that certain female readers might take issue with how their gender is portrayed through a female character here.
But I believe Engelhard gets it right. He gets the psyches of the particular (non stereotypical) female characters in this novel, and he expresses them accurately. He does not pretend to represent most types of men or women in this work; he is developing (exquisitely) the characters who live in this particular story and setting.
Did I mention that it is set perfectly in Atlantic City in the casino environments?
Engelhard has captured each human walking the pages of PRINCE OF DICE as a unique individual living among those who populate the gambling, gaming world in which this novel thrives.
In creating this rich story Engelhard seemed to have bull dogged into every corner of his psyche, into his past, into the history of what he has read, heard, been told, contemplated, beheld, held, and experienced. In Jack’s other books he gives worthy, functioning answers to life’s puzzles, answers not found elsewhere. If not full answers, he gives hints… for those with courage to read with open eyes and focused souls.
Incredibly gifted passages of rarely seen truths are presented here which could be quoted and hung on walls of sanctuaries. But, as required by the integrity of this story, Engelhard doesn’t give a simple (or even complex) final answer.
Well… there is an answer in the final line of chapter 40, and a doozie of a line it is!
I was mesmerized by the mysticism/spiritualism unearthed in PRINCE OF DICE, by the delving into a few of the potent secrets of religious archives:
The Lamed Vov concept of Thirty-six Just Men is fascinating to me. It rings of truth and resonates with my concept of the potency of one mind thinking clearly while embodied on Earth.
Few [if any] writers other than Jack Engelhard could spotlight spiritual secrets as he has here without dishonoring them.
No one but Jack could show the depth of craps as he has.
No one but this artist could succinctly divulge as he has the connections, convolutions, and concoctions of the Hollywood subculture.
No one but this man could dramatize this clearly the hormonal struggles men and women war with, each within his personally unique, dynamic chemical chaos.
No one but Jack Engelhard could honestly, seriously, respectfully call upon God through a novel and have Him answer.
As it appears to me He answered through many quotable lines in this book…
Yet, what about the life of Sasha Spivak and so many like her…
This book asks but does not answer the why of that, even though the book gives a type of resolution.
That the book asks yet does not give a canned answer is to its credit.
This novel has earned its place within the world of virile, visceral, vital literature. In some ways I could say this is Jack Engelhard’s best work, but each of his books gives its unique piece of the whole of the value of entertaining, edifying reading.
In awe of great written works when I find them, and all Engelhard’s works are crown gems,
A BOOK TRANSCENDANT
THE PRINCE OF DICE by Jack Engelhard
Much of the story takes place in Atlantic City…in fact the protagonist, Julian Rothschild [not one of those Rothschilds], lives on the street in Margate City where I grew up…he lives about four blocks away. He attended the elementary school my mom taught at for sixteen years and the high school where I flunked Spanish II…and geometry and probably a few other subjects too.
This, however, is not the basis for my breathless, enthusiastic, unequivocal five star recommendation of this book. In fact it was these references that almost made me put it down…you see I left home once upon a time and now am unable to get back… and I miss it terribly.
It made me homesick.
No…I recommend this book because it is a moral, social, cultural, spiritual MASTERPIECE. Seldom have I seen such a multi-faceted masterwork, so truly and utterly compelling [you won’t even think of putting it down…unless of course it makes you homesick]. Enticing action, fascinating characters… both sublime and every day….in short, those we all have met in the course of a full, unsheltered life, from the so-called “beautiful people” of Hollywood and the “comp’d” millionaire suites at the top of the casinos… to the hustlers on “Fun Corner” [what the locals called Kentucky and Arctic Avenues in my day…yes, the book goes there too]….to the homeless dying on the beach in the very shadow of millions of dollars. Love and lust, Good and Evil…action and adventure…this one has it all.
…And dialogue…yes DIALOGUE…that leaves writers of my ilk wondering what rock we were hiding under when such talent was handed out.
Of course we know where…in Jack Engelhard’s case…the talent comes from…El Camino Duro [as my Spanish II teacher would say]…the Hard Road. Starting life fleeing in terror from the Gestapo…living an impoverished refugee in Montreal, Canada…knocking about in Greenwich Village [during the Golden Age of Dylan, Cosby, Lenny Bruce and Peter, Paul and Mary], also Cincinnati, Haifa, New York, Jerusalem and Philadelphia….a journalist…combat soldier…hustler…martial arts expert and lover of thoroughbred racing.
He has seen it all. Like his character Slim Sam Belmont in this book he is one of a kind and his passing, G-d forbid, will leave a gaping hole never to be filled again …society is different now. But there are his writings, such as THE PRINCE OF DICE, and with these writings we can SOAR… become something of what we were.
But Jack’s experience isn’t the reason this book is one of a kind…it’s his ability to pass it on to his readers. In my own experience I’ve known Boardwalk hustlers, mobsters, too many corpses, a few champions and even some beautiful women…I can tell you this man writes with authenticity. These people are REAL. If you’ve been there you will see it right away and maybe feel a lot younger…maybe even vaguely threatened… while reading. If you haven’t you’ll learn something…as I did in this story about everything from the game of Craps to Hebrew Biblical mysticism to the history of the Sinai Desert.
I finished it in two sittings…and still am gulping for air.
This book is MAGNIFICENT. Five stars…for everything.
John W. Cassell
Jack Engelhard website: www.indecentviews.com