Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker... Las Vegas lures you to shed moral responsibility and piss away your money on indulgences like decadent food, entertainment, gambling, and sex. If you don't enjoy these pastimes, then what's the point of visiting the land of compromised values? Where else can you get a cheap steak, crash a Mexican wedding, get cold-decked in blackjack by a dealer named Dong, play video poker for thirteen straight hours, drink piña coladas out of a plastic coconut, bum a cigarette from an 85-year-old woman with an oxygen tank, speed away to the Spearmint Rhino in a free limo, get rubbed by a former Miss Teen USA, puke in the back of a cab driven by a retired Navy SEAL, snort cheap cocaine in the bathroom at O'Sheas, and then catch a lucky card on the river to crack pocket aces and win a poker tournament? Only in Las Vegas.
I can usually can figure out what makes up a great read and that is what you get in Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker. Take one sick puppy and drop him down in one sick town and you get an awesome read. Just finished Lost Vegas by Paul “Dr. Pauly” McGuire. In it we get a view of Vegas the tourists never see and the tourist board would rather not be known, at least that would be their public face. The Doctor paints a picture of the truly sinful part of Sin City and it all ain’t necessarily the kind of sin Vegas wants to promote with a wink and a nod yet is the type of manifesto that, for some perverse reason, would probably make a number of people go looking for some of the experiences he so artistically paints with his words. Of course I doubt if anyone really would wish to stay at the Redneck Riviera but curiosity does give one an itch to at least drive by to look, the same way people gawk at train wrecks and... More > car accidents. Given the amount of pharmaceuticals he describes imbibing, not to mention the ever present organics one kind of wonders how Pauly could even see the keys on his laptop to regale us with his worm’s eye view of the desert city let alone remember as much as he did. Whoever made his personal recorder should be signing him to an endorsement contract. The first half of the book is dominated by the story of a man starting at the bottom of his chosen vocation and looking to find the path onward and upward and the stories surrounding his walk through the bottom strata of a city that is ready to suck the life out of those who come there with dreams that never materialize. The poker is actually little more than backdrop or maybe the reason for the story but not the story itself. His life in those surroundings, hell, the surroundings themselves, are just much more interesting and intriguing. As the story goes on and the intrepid doctor climbs ever upward on the path of respectability the poker stories become more integral to the process as his surroundings become the more mundane vistas of suburbia, even if it is Las Vegas suburbia. Even so there are still snippets of drug fueled concert gatherings, afternoons spent in strip clubs and nights in the Hooker Bar to keep our interest in the seamier side of life. In the second half of the book the poker has come more to the fore and we get stories that never quite made it in the local newspaper or on ESPN’s coverage of the WSOP. Stories about Matasow’s bi-polar disorder, Vinnie Vinh’s strange antics, some stories about various players who hit the skids and never returned and even Tiffany Michelle’s amazing run a couple years ago and what went on away from the table. Only thing Pauly did leave out that I was hoping he would have had some insight in to was what was behind that action of hers in calling the clock on Snead. At the time it didn’t come off real well on TV though I read later that Snead took a lot more time than was shown but still, 2 tables left in the ME and basically his tourney at stake does make one wish for a bit more insight as to what was going on there. But if I can only find one thing to carp about in the whole damned book I guess it can’t be too bad. (Other than the fact it ain't in hardcover and how the hell I'm going to get my copy signed. Hey, I'm a collector, sue me.) The good Doctor leaves us with some heavy thoughts as to the nature of the human experience and the role Sin City plays in it as he closes out the book. After roaches in the kitchen (and the ashtrays), crack whores in the stairwells, lap dances to orgasm, Helmuth rants and media wars among the various poker media and websites it is positively metaphysical in nature but it fits. All in all, highly recommended.< Less
As the people who wrote the forewords state, if you have never met Paul McGuire one would think his vivid stories from the World Series of Poker, Phish concerts, strip clubs and Las Vegas in general are fiction. Far from the truth. As the man who stepped away from a life chained to an Armani suit working on Wall Street and stable paycheck to becoming his own boss and in charge of his own destiny Lost Vegas gives a small glimpse of that life that many of us 9 to 5'ers would gladly trade in our mini-vans for. Mixing degeneracy and philosophical debates is not for the weak, and Pauly brings it every page with existentialist musings from chatting shop with his fellow overworked poker writers to the afternoon shift strippers who can't kick their adderall addictions. If you ever wanted a peak behind the Belliago fountains, Cirque du Soleil shows, and 5-star restaurants, here's your chance to see Vegas in a different light. You won't regret your purchase.
Lost Vegas is not a tourist’s guide to Las Vegas. The book's insights will not help you win the World Series of Poker. However, if you enjoy a good story and fact is stranger than fiction drama you will love Lost Vegas. As a gambler, I obviously enjoyed the setting. Further, McGuire relates with a unique lens the impact of Las Vegas on varied individuals from household names to those never to be seen again.
I had been anxiously awaiting this book’s publication since I first heard it was in the works a couple of years ago. I ordered my copy the day it was available on Lulu and I was ecstatic when it arrived the day before I left for a week-long Vegas vacation. It was the perfect reading companion for my most recent Las Vegas adventure. I didn’t even mind having to sit for two hours in an idle plane destined for Vegas. This delay on the tarmac of JFK simply gave me more time to devour Pauly's perfect prose. At the risk of making this sound like a review of the latest Pixar Film, I found this book to be a delightful romp. I consider myself to be a connoisseur of Vegas lit and I don’t think anyone has ever captured the essence of Vegas like Dr. Pauly has in Lost Vegas. Simply phenomenal stuff. I can’t count the number of times I read a passage and said to myself, “Yes! That’s the real Vegas!” At times, I became jealous of his ability to capture my own feelings about the city so eloquently.... More > He's accomplished what most cannot – describing Las Vegas in an original way without being trite or sounding like a delusional Vegas apologist. When you take the sum of all the bits of Vegas grit and sleaze Pauly so vividly illustrates, you get a volume that is indescribably beautiful. I wish I could read it again for the first time, but I'm sure repeat readings will be almost as satisfying as the first. It should sell well over eleventy billion copies. My only complaint is that I wish it could have been longer so that I’d have something to read poolside at the Golden Nugget – I gobbled up every last work just as my plane touched down at McCarran.< Less
Hunter Thompson would love Paul McGuire's writing. Few writers match a stellar understanding of their subject with his uncanny ability to bring you along with them. You tag along as Pauly inhales the world of professional poker Los Vegas style.You will meet degenerates, gamblers, bar girls, drug dealers, writers, and hangers on as they live large in Vegas. Pauly brings us the truth of his experiences. This is a book that will explain a world in Vegas unseen by most. We always suspected this world existed and now we know. If this isn't the definitive description, it is close enough.
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