It is an unusual thing for me to review a book without having first read it cover-to-cover, but Love and Other Games of Chance is an unusual book. It is a piece of Lee Siegel’s para-autobiographical fiction project that comprehends Love in a Dead Language and Who Wrote the Book of Love?, and it details the life of “Siegel’s” alleged genetic father, who was raised in a circus family in California, advancing from snake-boy to sharpshooter, traveled the world from India to France, and recounted his many loves in a manuscript that this book purports to publish.
The book is in 100 short chapters, keyed to a board for a game of snakes & ladders. The overt implication is that a reader might use a conventional die to “play” through the book. After reading Chapter 1, roll the die and move on the included board, suffering the effects of any ladder or snake thus reached. Then read the chapter for the resulting space, and continue. So I did. I probably read thirty to forty chapters in this fashion, mostly in an ascending sequence on a first rapid pass up the board before I encountered my first snake.
Although I enjoyed everything I read, the book did not benefit from the lack of narrative continuity introduced by my reading procedure. As much as my attempt was in the spirit of the book, I would not recommend this method to other readers. After several months of intermittent engagement with the book, I’m shelving it to await a more conventional reading in the future.