My friend, Marek Biernacinski, is an original thinker and a talented wordsmith in his own right. Recently, he crafted an Amazon review for my new Las Vegas ghost novel, “The House Always Wins,” that goes much deeper than the typical feedback authors tend to get on these types of sites. I love it because he picked up on nuanced ideas that are important to me but hidden more in the realm of subtext. Unfortunately, Amazon rejected the review because they figured out that Marek and I are connected. (We’re definitely getting into “Minority Report” territory here, but that’s a subject for another day.) Now, Marek’s not the kind of guy who would say something if he didn’t mean it. But Amazon doesn’t know that, so his words never saw the light of day. Hoping to rectify that situation in some small way, I present Marek’s review to you now in all its glory. Thanks, buddy!
It’s difficult for a short book to pack meaningful thought into its pages, but “The House Always Wins” manages to do just that. Though I agree with many reviewers of this book that the tale is a fun, David and Goliath type of tale, my primary infatuation with it were the existential questions that the characters pose.
From the family break-up to the fight against the powers that be, “The House Always Wins” manages to explore various aspects of deeper questions in an easily digestible and conversational manner. The characters come to life through genuine conversation, and at times you find yourself slipping away into Rouff’s masterful art of conversation only to realize you just consumed deep thought on questions that have complicated answers. How do parents reconcile an unexpected escape by a daughter who they thought had a specific life planned out? If such a change truly unexpected, or were signs in an otherwise unhappy and unsatisfied life? What goes into home ownership and why do people feel tied to seemingly inanimate objects: houses? At what point does the pursuit of a dream become an obsession that is better to be cut loose? How do you reconcile this in a country where the pursuit of dreams is encouraged verbally, but not in social support and action? These are just some of the deeper questions touched on by characters in one way or another, and it’s typically done through fascinating dialogue that begs the reader to join.
There is another aspect that I greatly appreciated about the book, and one which might be of increasing use to a like-minded generation that thrives on quick, but intense, information doses. Rouff’s chapter structure is succinct but information-dense. It’s easy to pick up the book for 2–3 chapters (sometimes as short as a page per chapter) and that’s it. The chapters act as short mini-stories that allow you to read when you have a moment and not have to worry about forgetting your place. Yet, you get enough information to think about until you pick the book up again later.
A great “sit in the recliner” or “read while waiting for the bus” kind of book. Recommended.