Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Literary Lederers

I was starting to get a little worried after trying to call my sister Ann several times on Tuesday night and her not answering added to the fact that she hadn't picked up when I called the night before. Finally, around 9:30, her oldest daughter, my 10 year old niece Samantha, answered as I was leaving another message. I don't know why Ann didn't hear the phone on Monday, though it was close to the girls' bedtime when I called, but this time she and her three daughters had been at the home of our sister Patty. Patty's phone, however, was, according to Sami, "dislocated," so I could not have reached them there.
"Dislocated" Maybe I should send that to Richard Lederer. That's exactly the kind of cute malapropism that he compiles in his Anguished English series of books.
Now, if that surname sounds familiar to those of you who follow poker tournaments on the tube, it is because Richard Lederer is, indeed, the father of two of the game's top pros, Howard Lederer and Annie Duke. The only time he mentions his famous offspring in any of his books that I've read, however, is in a chapter of A Man of My Words: Reflections on the English Language entitled My Kids The Poker Players in which he reviews the many phrases originating with the game of poker that have made their way into the mainstream vernacular.
You know, I think it's sort of ironic that, given his nickname of "The Professor," Howard is just about the only member of his family who hasn't written at least one book. Annie Duke has written, with David Diamond, a combination memoir/poker instruction manual called Annie Duke: How I Raised, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed and Won Millions at The World Series of Poker. Chapters alternate between an account of Duke's victory in the WSOP Omaha-8 tournament and the story of the various obstacles, both physical and psychological, that she overcame before finding her true calling as a professional poker player. Most of the instructional asides focus on Omaha 8, the game Duke is best at, with a little bit about Texas Hold'em, the current most popular poker game. The final chapter recounts her victory in the 2004 WSOP Tournament of Champions, playing Hold'em, which netted her a two million dollar prize.
Youngest sister Katy is a poet who has published a volume of verse called Winter Sex as well as the memoir Poker Face: A Girlhood Among Gamblers. One of those books I've read and the other I have tried to read. Most poetry really doesn't grab me. Poker Face, though, is definitely recommended reading. It's not only a compelling portrait of growing up in a dysfunctional family, but, when in conjunction with her sister's book, offers a different perspective on some of the same events Annie Duke describes and a more complete picture of the life of the Lederer familu.
Papa Richard leads the publishing pack, however. Including the Anguished English books and A Man of My Words, he has authored nearly three dozens volumes and writes a syndicated newpaper column, Looking At Language.
Anyway, Howard has released a couple of instructional poker videos and teaches poker seminars, so I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before he writes down all that wisdom and joins his family in the literary circle.

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