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Centered around multi-million dollar stakes and a series of nationally televised poker tournaments, Fading Hearts on the River offers a story of oddsthe odds of a newborn surviving severe jaundice, the odds of Congress passing a law that renders one’s online gambling income inaccessible, the odds of drawing the right card on the turn or the river. In this tale of fatherhood and worldy success, Haxton follows his son Isaac’s unlikely career as a poker player, the nervous father often sitting on the sidelines with his fingers crossed or staring at a casino monitor while Isaac wins more in one hand of play than Haxton has earned from all his books of poetry combined. In this deftly crafted story Haxton explores the propensity for abstraction, logic, and memory all good poets and poker players share, all the while taking readers on a rollicking tour of complex, intertwined topics, ranging from game theory and financial strategies, to medical mysteries and lost love, to chess, Magic cards, and Texas Hold em. Guided by the through-line of a father’s love and admiration for his talented son, Fading Hearts delivers a unique perspective on professional gambling and one family’s experience playing the odds.
Brooks Haxton has published six collections of poems from Knopf. His poems and prose have appeared in Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Book Review, the New Yorker, and the Paris Review. He is the 2013 recipient of the Fellowship of Southern Writers Hanes Award, recognizing a distinguished body of work by a poet in mid-career. He lives with his wife and children in Syracuse and teaches at Syracuse University.