Girls' Poker Night
Jill A. Davis
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Buy *Girls' Poker Night: A Novel of High Stakes* online

Girls' Poker Night: A Novel of High Stakes

Jill A. Davis
Random House
240 pages
February 2003
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Ruby Capote is stuck in a rut. She lives in Boston, writes a "Single Girl on the edge/ledge/verge" column, and has a boyfriend who bores her to tears -- although the sex is out of this world. Not having the heart to break up with him, she instead tries to escape him by trying to get a job at a New York newspaper. When she doesn’t hear back from them for quite a while, she loses hope but sends a humorously sarcastic letter to the editor along with a six-pack of beer. Surprisingly enough, this gets her the job, and she heads to the city as soon as she calls all her friends there and gets the name of a good shrink.

Ruby finds herself very attracted to her boss, editor Michael Hobbs. He seems to return her feelings, but both are unwilling to take the next step and play a sort of advance-retreat game. Meanwhile, Ruby gets her friends together and starts a weekly poker night, where they play poker at nickel stakes, gossip, drink, eat, smoke, analyze, argue, and share stories. The players include Skorka, a sexy model and home-breaker; Jenn, spineless romantic; Meg, normal and happily married with children; Danielle, recently divorced and man-hungry; and Lily, who can’t make up her mind if she’s gay.

Ruby is chronically unable to stop herself from sabotaging her meaningful relationships, but in this case, even Michael has some unresolved issues from his past that leave Ruby wondering what her next move should be. The book doesn’t have a happy ending as such, but it fits the nature and overall tone of the entire story with its odd combination of hope and despair.

Girls' Poker Night is author Jill A. Davis’ debut attempt, though she was a writer for the Letterman show and has also written many network pilots, screenplays and short stories. That writing history influences the book greatly, as the entire story is broken into small episodes, recollections and scenes which have been put together in a rambling narrative that still somehow manages to make sense, like Sienfeld. This is largely due to the wisecracking central character Ruby, from whose point of view the entire story is narrated. Ruby is opinionated, self-important, and prone to making snap judgments, but keeps her innermost feelings hidden, even from her shrink. But she does all this with a biting, self-deprecating humor that is audaciously delightful. Through Ruby and the many supporting characters, Davis paints very graphic word pictures that accurately convey her meaning to the smallest detail. The plot is nothing new, the story is episodic, and the pace is meandering. However, what makes Girl’s Poker Night stands out is the skilled writing which is warm, witty, humorous, yet still poignant and deep.

© 2003 by Rashmi Srinivas for Curled Up With a Good Book

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