Laura McBride lives in Las Vegas and teaches composition at the College of Southern Nevada. She is the author of the novels We Are Called to Rise and In the Midnight Room.
In The Complete Ballet, John Haskell choreographs an intricate and irresistible pas de deux in which fiction and criticism come together to create a new kind of story. Fueled by the dramatic retelling of five romantic ballets, and interwoven with a contemporary story about a man whose daunting gambling debt pushes him to the edge of his own abyss, it is both a pulpy entertainment and a meditation on the physicality—and psychology—of dance.
The unnamed narrator finds himself inexorably drawn back to the pre–cell phone world of Technicolor Los Angeles, to a time when the tragedies of his life were about to collide. Working as a part-time masseur in Hollywood, he attends an underground poker game with his friend Cosmo, a strip-club entrepreneur. What happens there hurtles the narrator down the road and into the room where the novel’s violent and surreal showdown leaves him a different person.
As the narrator revisits his past, he simultaneously inhabits and reconstructs the mythic stories of ballet, assessing along the way the lives and obsessions of Nijinsky and Balanchine, Pavlova and Fonteyn, Joseph Cornell and the story’s presiding spirit, the film director John Cassavetes. This compulsively readable fiction is ultimately a profound and haunting consideration of the nature of art and identity.
Meet Charlie Barnes. Age 24, bright, college-educated, talented and a failure. Now hes back home in Los Angeles after a disastrous two-year pilgrimage to New York and back. No more time to fail. Time to give it one last shot.
Set against the backdrop of the 1980 Iranian Hostage Crisis and colored by panoramas of Californias fabled Santa Anita Racetrack, Where Gods Gamble is Eastlands emotional dance through the history, hope, and failed promise of America.
A reluctant hero, young Barnes is a typical, willing victim of Americas manufactured myths and sweet, seductive slogans. But now he has an important decision to make. Will he pursue the depressing, false security of a normal 9-to-5 job? Will he select the far more difficultyet infinitely more fulfillingcareer of a professional gambler? Or will he succumb to his own internal demons in trying to sort it all out
Yet, in the painful process of starting over, new doors will open, and two women who once had it all will rediscover the power of honesty and friendship ... and learn the true scope and meaning of love.