Lay the Favorite
A Story About Gamblers
By Beth Raymer
(Spiegel & Grau, Paperback, 9780385526463, 240pp.)
Publication Date: November 20, 2012
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“Beth Raymer’s crackling, hilarious memoir ricochets through the gambling underworld in Las Vegas, and is peopled with all manner of lovable wack-jobs, none of whom is quite as wacky—or lovable—as Raymer herself.”—Marie Claire
Beth Raymer waited tables at a dive in Las Vegas until a customer sent her to see Dink, of Dink Inc., one of the town’s biggest professional sports gamblers. Dink needed a right-hand man—someone who would show up on time, who had a head for numbers, and who didn’t steal. Beth got the job.
Lay the Favorite is the story of Beth’s years in the high-stakes, high-anxiety world of sports betting—a period that saw the fall of the local bookie and the birth of the freewheeling, unregulated offshore sports book, and with it the elevation of sports betting in popular culture. As the business explodes, Beth rises from assistant to expert, running an offshore booking office in the Caribbean. As the men around her succumb to their vices—money, sex, drugs, gambling—Beth improbably emerges with her integrity intact, wiser, sharper, nobody’s fool. A keen and compassionate observer of the adrenaline-addicted roguish types who become her mentors, her enemies, her family, Beth Raymer depicts an insanely colorful world teeming with pathos and ecstasy.
NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
“Candid, smart, funny, wild and crazy.”—Elle
“Raymer gleefully shatters the myth of the modern gambler. . . . Seduced by her stories, we long for this strange, sleazy and alluring landscape.”—Los Angeles Times
“[Raymer depicts] a sordid, florid microworld lurching along the edge of society, not to mention legality. . . . She never condescends or indulges in reality-show caricature; she finds charm in the charmless, a point of light in the most lost of souls.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Lay the Favorite reads more like a novel than a memoir. The rich characters are drawn in depth, yet simply and honestly.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Entertaining (and often quite funny) . . . a delight to read.”—The New Yorker
Beth Raymer has an MFA from Columbia University. In 2007 she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship. She lives in New York City.
“Betting on the come in her wickedly funny debut, Beth Raymer’s prose is like a virgin in a sandy bikini festooned with C-notes. From Vegas to Rio, from the boxing ring to the stripper's pole, she rubs shoulders and other things with the sickest crew of action junkies since Roulettenburg. Her ear for sports bettors' patois, for the ins and outs of pleasure, self-pleasure, and getting the best of it, makes Lay the Favorite a kaleidoscope of high-test debauchery.” –James McManus, author of Positively Fifth Street
“Strange as hell, wildly affectionate and very, very funny. It is a world filled with scoundrels, thieves, and gamblers. It is a world we all recognize, where everyone is looking to somehow come out on top while doing what they love. The book is wise and has a relish for life that is a treat.” –Stephen Frears
“Beth Raymer possesses one of the most original voices I've encountered in years of teaching, reading, and reviewing young writers. And she puts that voice to ideal use in depicting the demimonde of sports gambling, the place where she finds an unlikely but uncanny surrogate family. Lay the Favorite is a coming-of-age saga like no other you’re ever likely to read.” –Samuel G. Freedman, author of Letters to a Young Journalist
Lay the Favorite reads more like a novel than a memoir. The rich characters are drawn in depth, yet simply and honestly.”—Wall Street Journal
“[A] very funny and smart book.”—Robert Siegel, NPR/All Things Considered
“Seduced by her stories, we long for this strange, sleazy and alluring landscape, even as the stakes get higher and Raymer's search for ‘the best of it’ turns into a worst-case scenario. With a film adaptation in the works, it's a safe bet that Raymer's memoir will find a wide audience. In fact, her engaging voice makes her a shoe-in for a sequel. I'm setting the odds at 3 to 1.”—Los Angeles Times
“Raymer’s crackling, hilarious memoir ricochets through the gambling underwold in Las Vegas, and is peopled with all manner of lovable wack-jobs, none of whom is quite as wacky—or lovable—as Raymer herself.”—Marie Claire
“Candid, smart, funny, wild and crazy.”—Elle, Top 10 Summer Books for 2010
“It’s hard not to like the breezy, ingenuous voice of this plucky protagonist who proves she’s game for any kind of new experience.”—Publishers Weekly