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All or Nothing


What William S. Burroughs’ Junky was to heroin addiction, All or Nothing is to gambling, only more prophetic.

$24.95 $18.71

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What people are saying…

“As a cartographer of autodegradation, Allen takes his place on a continuum that begins, perhaps, with Dostoyevsky’s Gambler, courses through Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano, William S. Burroughs’s Junky, [and] the collected works of Charles Bukowski and Hubert Selby Jr…Like Dostoyevsky, Allen colorfully evokes the gambling milieu…Like Burroughs, he is a dispassionate chronicler of the addict’s daily ritual, neither glorifying nor vilifying the matter at hand. Yet he never wallows like Lowry nor amuses like Bukowski. His spare, efficient prose could be called medium-boiled.”
New York Times Book Review

“By turns harrowing, illuminating, and endearing, Preston Allen’s All or Nothing is more than a gut punch, it’s a damn good book.”
Maggie Estep, author of Flamethrower

“Allen’s new novel poignantly depicts the life of P . . . Told without preaching or moralizing, the facts of P’s life express volumes on the destructive power of gambling. This is strongly recommended and deserves a wide audience; an excellent choice for book discussion groups.”
Library Journal

“A gambler’s hands and heart perpetually tremble in this raw story of addiction . . . Allen’s brilliant at conveying the hothouse atmosphere of hell-bent gaming.”
Kirkus Reviews

All or Nothing is funny, relentless, haunting, and highly readable.”

All or Nothing is a breathless tour through the mind of P, a gambling junkie who divines lucky numbers everywhere, even in the mumblings of his severely asthmatic son as he comes out of anaphylactic shock. Winning the bet is the only thing. And money has little value except as a means to place the next one. Preston Allen’s writing is as tight as a high wire. Out of the hyperkitsch world of gamblers and the casinos they inhabit, Allen creates a novel that is frightening and sad and thrilling.”
—Gonzalo Barr, author of The Last Flight of Jose Luis Balboa

“Allen has done for gambling what William S. Burroughs did for narcotic addiction. He’s gotten into the heart of the darkness and shown us what it feels like to be trapped, to be haunted, to live without choice. Allen is relentless and unsparing in his depiction of the life of a gambling addict, from the magical thinking to the visceral thrill of risking it all. And now the world will know what we in Miami have known for a long time: Preston L. Allen is so good a writer it’s scary.”
—John Dufresne, author of Johnny Too Bad

All or Nothing is a smart, riveting novel of obsession; an in-depth character study rendered in tight, sparkling prose. This is a moving story of love and addiction that will hook the reader from the first word.”
—Ivonne Lamazares, author of The Sugar Island


Preston L. Allen’s witty, charming, and very likable school bus driver, named P, is a desperate gambler. He has blown the hundred thousand dollars he won at the casino six months ago, but his wife and family still think he’s loaded. P spins out of control on the addict’s downward spiral of dependency, paranoia, and depression, as he must find ways to keep coming up with the money to fool his family and fund his growing addiction. The bets get bigger and bigger, until finally, faced with the ultimate financial crisis, he hits it really big. Yet winning, he soon learns, is just the beginning of a deeper problem.

The one constant for P—who rises from wage-earner to millionaire and back again in his roller-coaster-ride of a life—is that he must gamble. That his son has died, that his wife is leaving him, that his girlfriend has been arrested, that he has no money, that he has more money than he could ever have dreamed—are all lesser concerns for P as he constantly seeks out new gambling opportunities.

While other books on gambling seek either to sermonize on the addiction or to glorify it by highlighting its few prosperous celebrities, All or Nothing is an honest, straightforward account of what it is like to live as a gambler—whether a high-rolling millionaire playing $1,000-ante poker in Las Vegas or a regular guy at the local Indian casino praying for a miracle as he feeds his meager life savings into the unforgiving slot machine. All or Nothing is the first novel to dig beneath the veneer to explore the gambler’s unique and complex relationship with money. If you’ve ever wanted to get into the heart and psyche of a compulsive gambler, here is your chance.

Book Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Published: 11/1/07
  • IBSN: 9781933354415
  • e-IBSN: 9781617751004


PRESTON L. ALLEN is the author of eight works of fiction, including Every Boy Should Have a Man, Jesus Boy, All or Nothing, and the award-winning collection Churchboys and Other Sinners. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines and journals and have been anthologized in Brown Sugar, Miami Noir, and Las Vegas Noir. The creator and host of Accents: A Poetry Jam, Preston L. Allen is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Miami Dade College. He was born in Honduras and lives in South Florida. I Disappeared Them is his latest novel.

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