There were a lot of familiar names in this particular event -- familiar to those of us who follow a lot of WCOOPs and SCOOPs, anyway. Kaplan outlasted Jon “PearlJammer” Turner heads-up, despite the fact that Turner had a more than 3-to-1 chip lead when heads-up play began. And finishing third was James “Andy McLEOD” Obst, who always seems to be there at the end of these things.
Had sort a mild bit of déjà vu last night while watching the tourney. With about three tables left, Kaplan piped up in the chat box, asking his opponents whether or not any of them had read the 2003 novel Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. No one had, but one opponent asked him about it and Kaplan recommended it. Kaplan would bring the book up again at the final table, where yet another opponent said he was adding it to his reading list.
I’ve never read the book, but had heard about it around the time it came out and was getting a lot of attention. It’s apparently somewhat based on the true story of the author, an Australian bank robber and drug addict who famously escaped from prison and was on the run for a decade (in the 1980s). Sounds pretty intriguing.
When Kaplan brought up the novel in the chatbox, I had a “wait a minute” moment and realized that I’d covered a final table back in the spring involving Xaston where he’d also brought up the book. It was a SCOOP event (here’s that recap), and in the write-up for that one I’d reported the chat and even worked in a reference to the book, comparing its story to an attempt by Kaplan to “escape” a poker trap in a subsequent hand.
You might’ve heard Kaplan interviewed on last week’s TwoPlusTwo Pokercast (episode No. 140), the one with Kathy Liebert I mentioned on Friday. An interesting (and obviously talented) guy. Otis interviewed him, too, for a profile over on the PokerStars blog, in which the Roberts novel comes up -- check it out.
You can imagine how I like hearing a young poker player talking about a novel meaning a lot to him and recommending it to others. As a lifelong reader -- and someone whose thinking has been influenced by the many novels I’ve read -- I obviously subscribe to the notion that stories can shape us. And as I’ve expressed here many times before, I think that the written word can convey meaning in ways other kinds of storytelling never can.
Thus do I keep reading novels. (And writing them, too!) And, like Kaplan, recommending them to others.
Think I may just have to pick up a copy of that Shantaram, see what it’s all about.