las vegas guide

Fool Me Once Reviews from the Local Press

All three of Las Vegas’s alternative weeklies like my book. For the most part.

If I had to put grades on the reviews, I’d say that Las Vegas Weekly gave me an A, CityLife gave me a B+, and Vegas Seven gave me a B.

Here are the highlights:

CityLife: "It's an oddly addicting read."

Las Vegas Weekly: “Lax has a purpose—he is using Vegas to research a book on the art of deceit—and what he seems to find is that this city may actually be more honest than most because it can be so crass and harsh. Fool Me Once marks real growth for Lax..."*

Seven: "He has a good sense of humor, and no trouble putting together readable sentences. For those reasons, Fool Me Once will most likely resonate with Vegas locals more than anybody else. Lax, a Chicago transplant, seemed right at home before he even unpacked his suitcase."

*Also from the LVW Review: “Before you claim I’m sucking up to Lax because he is a Weekly colleague, I urge you to revisit the lambasting I gave Weekly writer John Curtas’ ‘guidebook’ in November.”

Did George Bush write George Bush's memoir?

I’m 100 pages into the Bush memoir, and I’m loving it.

When I say this to my friends, this response usually follows: “Guess he had a good ghostwriter!” Or something like that.

I can’t discount the possibility that somebody helped Bush write the book (or the possibility that somebody wrote the book for Bush). But I sure haven’t seen the evidence. Nor, really, has anybody. It’s all speculation.

I can see where my friends are coming from. After all, Bush sure didn’t have the eloquence of Clinton or Obama. But books, my former editor Scott Dickensheets points out, are different than speeches: “Speech is an improvisational act, unfolding in the moment. Writing is reflective; you have time to polish.” (I should point out: I don’t know whether Scott has made up his mind about whether Bush wrote the memoir himself; Scott was speaking in general terms.)

Bush has had two years to write and polish Decision Points. And by all accounts—his own, especially—he’s spent a lot of time doing just that. So why is it so crazy to believe the book is significantly cleaner than Bush’s speeches and debate performances?

I contacted linguist Geoffrey Nunberg and asked him these two questions: Isn't it possible that somebody who speaks, uh, as Bush speaks, would be capable of writing a good book with clean prose? Surely there are some precedents for this...(clumsy speakers writing eloquent books...), right?

And here’s what Nunberg had to say: I can't think of too many, but then Bush isn't alone. Most presidents had help—except Jimmy Carter; the question is, how much? Eisenhower was a much more fluent writer than a speaker, for example—you can tell this from his letters—but he apparently had some help on Crusade in Europe.

Maybe we can all agree on these two things: 1) It’s not a big deal if Bush got some help with this book. Most Presidents get help. 2) We’ll never know how much help Bush got.

Agree or disagree, until more evidence comes out, I’m giving the guy the benefit of the doubt on this one. And, as Las Vegas Weekly’s book reviewer, I’m doing everything I can to evaluate the book and not the politics of the guy who wrote it.

And what about my upcoming book, Fool Me Once: Hustlers, Hookers, Headliners, and How Not to Get Screwed in Vegas? Who really wrote it?

Bush did.

First Book Review is In...

...and it's positive. Comes from Kirkus, and it goes a little something like this...

"Fear and loather is in short supply, but there are plenty of cons and cheap hustles in this lively memoir of time spent on the seamier edge of Casinoland.

Hunter Thompson it ain’t, and that’s refreshing for a book about Las Vegas—especially with Lax, who arrives in the capital of human frailties “at the speed limit, in my mom’s SUV, carrying a dozen dress shirts, a dozen ties, a couple boxes of kitchen supplies and toiletries, a briefcase full of magic tricks, my laptop, and my mom.”

Yet, like Thompson, Lax throws light on a place that seems all too familiar. A sometime lawyer and self-taught magician with a taste for what Criss Angel calls “Mindfreaks,” the author is fascinated by the elaborate ways humans have developed to part other humans from their money. There is the improbably torso augmentation of his roommate, for instance, which nets bigger tips, and the card-counting, and the Mexican turnover (“ a move in which you use one card to turn over a second and switch the two in the process”).

It will come as no surprise to most readers that everyone is on the make in Las Vegas, and the scholarly detachment with which Lax records it merely emphasizes the ordinariness of desperation—as when he shares an episode involving a criminal with his long-suffering mom, the Greek chorus of the tale, only to be chided for his choice of companions, to which Lax responds, “He didn’t’ KILL anybody. He just shot some people.”

Mortal peril, thankfully, doesn’t come often in these pages, which are instead populated with characters such as a 450-pound male Cher impersonator and a card junkie who tears himself away from the table long enough to offer Lax tips on being a manly man: “Stop drinking white wine for starters.”

An entertaining field guide to vice, but also one with a point—if you’re headed anywhere near the Strip, watch your wallet."

And Kirkus Says....Something. But What?

This is so frustrating! Kirkus just posted a review of Fool Me Once, but I can't read it because I don't have a Kirkus account. All I can read is the first two lines, which say... "Fear and loathing is in short supply, but there are plenty of cons and cheap hustles in this lively memoir of time spent on the seamier edge of Casinoland. Hunter Thompson it ain’t, and that’s refreshing for a book about..." And that's all I can read. :/

More Advanace Priase for Fool Me Once...from Kevin Roose

Unfairly young/talented author Kevin Roose wrote one of the best books of 2009--this according to Barnes & Noble and Las Vegas Weekly. It's called, "The Unlikely Disciple" and it's about the author's time at the ultra-religious Liberty University.

Well, here's what Mr. Roose had to say about my upcoming book, Fool Me Once:

"Rick Lax embedded himself with Vegas's most notorious magicians, call girls, and wheeler-dealers and emerged with a funny and fascinating cautionary tale for the rest of us. Anyone who's ever been scammed, bluffed, or lied to should read Fool Me Once."

Thanks for the kind words, Kevin!

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