IN&OUTTONIGHT REVIEWS 24 Tuesday, 15 September 2009 London Lite I must declare an interest. It was playing at a poker game hosted by Victoria Coren, the Observer columnist who became Britains most successful female player, that sparked my own love affair with the game. But thats not why I love her funny, wise and occasionally heartbreaking memoir. I love it because its so lyrical about pokers secret lexicon of flops and folds, trips and turns, blinds and bluffs; because its searingly honest about the sands of Corens life being measured out in hands dealt rather than novels written or children raised; and because it doesnt shirk the black heart of a game which, lets face it, is all about taking other peoples money. It also makes an insightful history of the modern game. At the turn of the millennium poker was still the outlaw art of a handful of outsiders in a few seedy dives. Now the internet has made it a multi- billion-dollar industry, and Coren has been there every step of the way. One flaw: the uninitiated may find the poker action baffling. But for anyone whose heart has flipped to flop a flush, this book is the nuts. DOMINIC WELLS F OR the average rap mogul, writing a self-help book is probably pretty far down the priority list. so its surprising that after putting his name to trainers, watches, vita- min water and condoms, 50 Cent decided the next logical step was to publish an inspirational tome with Californian self-help guru Robert Greene. Not that this is a title that would sit comfortably in most mind, Body & spirit sections. the only way to describe the design is biblical. It has gilt-edged pages, gothic font and Latin inscriptions. Had the publishers budget allowed, you imagine, it would be handwritten by monks. Its a manual on power, how to get it and how to keep it. Its also about how to get rich or die tryin. 50 Cents perspective on life was honed on the tough streets of southside Queens, where he dealt crack from the age of 12. Greenes was developed, he says primly, by observ- ing the crafty manoeuvres of people in Hollywood. the basic idea -- the 50th law -- is that you need bulletproof confidence to suc- ceed in life. Which would be fine, if it didnt then go all gangsta. the first chapter, the Fearful Attitude, argues that chaos is good. It then advises, Do not ask for what you need but take it and use outright force when appropri- ate. It just stops short of telling you to pack a semi-automatic for work. Greene, who did the actual writing, is clearly a clever guy: he references everyone from N i e t z s c h e t o Napoleon. In fact, he com- pares Fiddy to the pint-sized French general. When a rival dealer sprayed nine bullets into him in 2000, Fiddy could have turned his back on his dream of making it as a rapper, but instead he decided to ratchet up his anger, energy and fearlessness, as if he were confronting the impassable Alps, and do a mix-tape. Its stirring stuff. theres one big problem with this book, though, and its not the random history lessons or even the rapper wisdom. Its that its just not that much fun to read. Greene goes on and on about internalis- ing the game and leading from the front. Youd get more entertainment from the shares index in the Ft. Also, it feels a bit dishonest. Of course 50 Cent isnt really dangerous any more. In America, you can get his brand of vitamin water in health food shops. At one point he says, 50 Cent is a person I created. soon it will be time to destroy him and become someone else. Barefoot Doctor, watch your back. REVIEWSBOOKS Corenscoresaroyalflush withherpoker-facedstory Language The Last Word ByBenMacintyre(Bloomsbury,12.99) HHHHH Its a tough sell, a collection of columns about language from the literary section of the times. But Ben macintyre is such a fluent, effortless writer and unearther of intriguing facts that the Last Word is the first book about language -- apart from perhaps melvyn Braggs the Adventures Of English -- since Bill Brysons brilliant mother tongue, that deserves mainstream success. these are bite-sized essays that take in the origin of nursery rhymes such as mary, mary Quite Contrary, which isnt about one girls quest to design the ultimate garden but is more likely a reference to mary I and her murdering of Protestants (the garden was a boneyard, the cockleshells instruments of torture); a witty imagining of literary rewritings (my favourite was moby Dickhead by Irvine Welsh) and the proliferation of words in other languages that would benefit the English language. tsonga, the language of the Limpopo province of south Africa, for instance, has one word many of us would find very useful most weekends: rhwe -- to sleep on the floor without a mat, and usually drunk and naked. A little literary grab-bag of delight. PAUL CONNOLLY MY DAD is English and my mum is French, so Ive always been amused by cross-Channel stereotypes. The American journalist Debra Ollivier also has inside knowledge -- she married a Frenchman -- and is happy to explain why les Franaise are skinnier, sexier and more stylish than the Brits. But I couldnt help shrugging with Gallic indifference at some of her claims. She says being fat isnt acceptable there, so gorging must be followed by weeks of starvation. And women have a more relaxed attitude towards dating in France because men and women actually like one another. Ollivier equates Brits with Americans even though were closer to our fellow Europeans and can look at a portrait of a naked lady without being outraged. But her advice to chill out is a valid tip for anyone prepared to act French to improve their sex life. For the rest of us, a Herms scarf should do the trick. LAUREN PAXMAN A sHOCKING mystery. A young woman, Ruth, collars a female cop. Ruth is panicky and desperate. Her boyfriend, she says, has told her something weird -- that hes killed a woman. But Ruth says she knows this woman and, whats more, she knows shes alive. so why does the boyfriend insist hes a murderer? He is Aidan -- handsome, scarred, a scary oddball. sophie Hannah is very, very good at setting things up and moving on. A chunky book youll get through in no time. WILLIAM LEITH The Other Half Lives BySophieHannah (Hodder,6.99) Newpaperbacks pOker For richer, For poorer: a Love affair With poker ByVictoriaCoren(Canongate,16.99) HHHHH ITS 1939. War is near. And here is a chance to read the diaries of several Brits, selected from the Mass Observation Archive by the author. In late August, as one woman pointed out, time seemed to drag. Then came prime minister Chamberlains announcement. One man tells us he was in church at the crucial moment. An altar boy gave a note to the priest: The inevitable has happened. Very poignant, it feels like history as lived in real time. WL We are at War BySimonGarfield (EdburyPress,6.99) YOu could do a lot worse, says the author of this book, than live your life like Rolling stone Keith Richards. the point being that he has been through a lot, and hes still here. He wears a handcuff bracelet, a reminder that freedom is not to be taken for granted, and a skull ring, because were all the same underneath the skin. He believes in having no secrets -- so you never have to lie. Also, be instinctive. Be kind to people. Do not be subservient to authority. And dont have regrets. strangely compelling. WL What Would keith richards Do? ByJessicaPallington (Bloomsbury,7.99) STyLe What French Women know ByDebraOllivier(Piakus,10.99) HHIII 50centworth ofgoodadvice Doyenne of the decks: Coren THe bIg reaD The 50th Law By50CentandRobertGreene (ProfileBooks,15) HHHII amber cOWan Live the Fiddy way: 50 Cent may seem an unlikely self-help guru index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html