Friday, December 1, 2006

Queen's Gambit

Title: The Queen's Gambit: a Novel

Author: Walter Tevis
Gendre: Fiction

ISBN: 1400030609
# of Pages: 243
Published: 1983; Random House Inc.

Began & Finished Reading: Easter Day of 2004

After fighting with someone, you know how you storm out of the room (or in this case car), slamming the door for just enough of a dramatic exit. Loud.

On that particular day I was annoyed by the vulgar, chauvinistic comments made by my driver a.k.a. acquaintance in question. Going up the stairs to my apartment on the Main, I decided to take a shower as I often do to cool off.

Having missed a call on my cell phone, I turned my tote bag over spilling all the contents on my kitchen table (which is another bad habit I have formed over the years since I cannot find the patience to stick my hand in the deep abyss rummaging for a little gadget that is more of an annoyance than help). I found my cell phone alright and a book. This book. On the first page it was written

"To Van,*
the One and Only.
May Beth find a kindred
spirit in your thoughts.

I had to forgive him of course. I plopped down on the coach with a towel in my hair and nothing else on, reading the entire thing even though my Japanese homework was calling me from across the room. That's how The Queen's Gambit came to be in my possession.

The Plot: When Beth's Arithmetic teacher sends her to clean his board brushes, she comes upon the janitors staring at a board deep in thought. Curious she approaches and though at first he is hesitant, the man finally explains tp her the problem before him. " Okay, child, We can play chess now. I play White." ( Page 8). From there Beth begins the quick journey of fighting for the World Champion title while struggling with her addiction to drugs and alcohol. She also feels alienated from the other women, who are few in that field, and the chess players who distance themselves from her because of her age and gender. This freak of nature is no predictable character. Instead, she brings forth the dark side of genius & its burden. This book is more about how a life is a game than about a game that dictates a life.

Comments: Beth is one of the most prominent female characters that I have ever encountered in a book. One does not empathize with her--one becomes her: in her delusions, in her pain. When Beth closes her eyes and sees rock taking bishop on A1 so do you. Astonishingly enough Tevis, being male, does a great job in making her a believable female character. Her obsession and intellect do not set her apart as one would expect and this is most likely due to the way in which Tevis decides to describe her situation to you. When she takes drugs for example he writes, " That night for the first time she took three pills, one after the other. Little prickles went across the hairs on the back of her neck; she had discovered something important. She let the glow spread all over her, lying on her cot in her faded blue pajamas in the worst place in the Girls' Ward, near the door to the corridor and across from the bathroom. Something in her life was solved: she knew about the chess pieces and how they moved and captured, and she knew how to make herself feel good in the stomach and in the tense joints of her arms and legs, with the pills the orphanage had given her." (Page 8)

The sensations were not necessary but suddenly when reading (or typing) this tingle begins in my calves and my head spins just a little. There are always visions of chess pieces and boards with you as you read. They may not be as sharp or accurate as her own, but they are nonetheless constantly there.

Best Part: When she breaks into the cupboard at the orphanage and swallows an entire JAR of pills. You almost want her to succeed as the description of her need for them is that intense, and the text that follows describing her being purged of the drugs is highly dramatic.

Worst Part: Her later teen years can drag on a little... Also, some passages are so involved in Beth's head that you may have to reread it a few times to be certain on what's happening in the 'real' world.

Recommend To: To: Well, notice how I have been going back in time from books I have read in the past? ( no! You don't say? ) Well, it's because a) I am reading everything by Jane Austen and I will be writing a mega entry on that & b) it's the holidays and there is no Da Vinci Code this season to buy, everyone (no M you cannot edit that line!) . I thought I'd introduce GREAT, priceless & timeless reads that are good for all ages and sizes when going to that dinner party and you don't know what to bring.

Cool Fact: Tevis is all about the Game. One of his more renowned pieces is The Hustler and - you got it!- The Color of Money, another book/ movie duo you may want to explore. In this case, the book wins hands down. He died in 1984 at the age of 58 of lung cancer and was known more for his fantasy writing than his fiction.

****I hate that nickname and refuse for anyone to call me that!!!


Bookfool said...

Damn, another book to look for. I should probably be happy that I lost my hugemongous wish list when the computer ate my email, this week. Wonderful review, thanks Nessie!

Nessie said...

Your very Welcome!!!

Colleen Gleason said...

Hey...thanks for trying to come by my site!

I don't know why you were having trouble...I hope it works later for you.