We Bet You'll Like It
By Anonymous in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 9, 2005 3:30PM
Chicagoist was probably one of the last people in the world to read Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand--we finished it at the end of last year. Honestly, we were kind of like: "horses? eh." But then, you know, we read it, and we wanted more. So we're not wasting any time with Ted McClelland's new book, Horseplayers: Life at the Track. McClelland, a staff writer for the Chicago Reader, is the Seabiscuit of horseplayers: people who make a living (or not) at betting on horse races, what McClelland calls "the most mathematically unforgiving form of gambling in the world."
Horseplayers is a first-hand account of McClelland's year spent trying to make a profit betting on horses, bankrolled by his publisher, Chicago Review Press. In the meantime, the Reader also paid him to write a column about his horse-betting efforts. Man, talk about sweet deal. But it was clearly worth it for his financiers as well--McClelland is a great writer and Horseplayers an engaging read, full of some fantastic characters. We had a little trouble grasping some of the math involved, and we're worried that he occasionally assumes too great a familiarity with Chicago for non-Chicagoan readers, but neither issue really gets in the way of the story. We identify with McClelland, who writes:
Handicapping is a nerd's game. Nerds have always been with us. In centuries past, the monasteries took them in and forced them to copy the Bible. Now, they work in computers, and a few of the most fanatical end up at the racetrack.
Hear McClelland read from and talk about Horseplayers tonight at 57th Street Books in Hyde Park.
Ted McClelland, Horseplayers: Life at the Track
57th Street Books, 7:00 PM
1301 East 57th Street
And don't forget the Printer's Row Book Fair this weekend!