Saturday, August 5, 2017

#59: California Split by Lou Cameron

Two hardcore gamblers--one carefree, one obsessed--try to get one big score in Lou Cameron's California Split.

California Split has one of the most unusual pedigrees of any book I've read.  It's a novelization of a screenplay by Joseph Walsh, an actor who based the story on his own gambling addiction.  The movie version was directed by great 70s auteur Robert Altman, but remains one of his lesser-known works of that period (and features George Segal and Elliot Gould, who allegedly played a version of himself).

The novelization was done by Lou Cameron, who did tons of other adaptations and novels but may be best known as the creator of the "Longarm" adult western series.

All that aside, it's a pretty cool little story, a slice of early 70s life with a noirish feel.  Our sad-sack protagonist and his motor-mouthed friend brush up against the underworld and various low-lifes, prostitutes, and loan sharks as they try to stay one step ahead of their addictions.

I found this for a quarter at a hospital book sale, and mainly picked it up out of curiosity.  But it stands on its own merits as a hardboiled tale of the gambling world.

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