"So each night began. One of us would pick up the other and we'd make the drive into the Mississippi night, headed for a place where everything was different."
Within a year and a half, Frederick and Steven Barthelme had lost both of their parents, less than a decade after their brother Donald had died. Their exacting father had been a prominent modernist architect in Houston; their mother, the architect of this family of seven, which she "invented, shaped, guided, and protected."
"We were on our own in a remarkable new way," the Barthelmes write, "and we were not ready." What followed was a several-year escapade during which the two brothers lost close to a quarter of a million dollars in the garish gambling boats off the Mississippi coast. They played to enter that land of possibility that is addiction. Then, in a bizarre twist, the brothers were charged with violating state gambling laws, fingerprinted, and thrown into the surreal world of grand juries, prison visits, and felony prosecution. Double Down is the sometimes wryly told, often heartbreaking story of how they got into this predicament and the role played by the loss of their parents. It is also a reflection on the pull and power of illusions, the way they work on us when we are not careful.
Double Down is a good gambling story, maybe worth every penny the Barthelmes lost.