"The Noble Hustle: Poker, Beef Jerky, and Death" by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday: 234 pp., $24.95) Colson Whitehead's "A Noble Hustle" brings to mind James McManus' "Positively Fifth Street" — both writers, after all, entered the World Series of Poker as part of a reporting gig. But whereas McManus ended up going deep in the tournament (he ultimately came away with close to a quarter-million dollars), Whitehead takes a more anthropological approach. Growing out of an assignment for the website Grantland, "A Noble Hustle" is part memoir, part satire, part meditation on the fractured state of contemporary culture. "I grabbed my hoodie," Whitehead writes, "jabbed the pink flip-flop in the pocket, and staggered out of the Pavilion. Absent of dignity, full of shame."
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