Buffalo Poker

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Growing up in an Italian-American family is, to say the least, an interesting experience for Charles Cipressi. Aside of his father’s clandestine machinations that are snuggly hidden within the confines of a seemingly innocent barbershop, as well as the awkward relationship that he has with his father, Charles’s fondest memories are of Christmases past. During high school, Charles discovers the disconcerting truth about his real father and heritage. Depression sets in, and an attempted suicide follows. Charles is diagnosed with “being bipolar.” Determined to have nothing to do with the disease, Charles throws away his prescription of Lithium, leaves his hometown of Buffalo, New York, and takes a computer position with a Fortune 500 company in Houston, Texas. Although sitting rather comfortably, unresolved conflict continues to raise its ugly head, and history has an eerie way of repeating itself — especially when he gets involved with Bernadette.

Thomas J. Chimera’s debut novel takes readers on nothing less than a journey into a dysfunctional realm. Chimera’s first-person account may be a total work of fiction, but it, nonetheless, reads like a memoir. A victim of his own familial upbringing, Charles shares what life is like growing up in a quasi-pleasant-often-quirky environs, only to learn that he’s clearly been lied to by the people he loves most. While Chimera’s narrative is filled with one un-pleasantry after the other, he is able to keep it light and flowing by throwing in a good handful of comedic moments.

Much of Chimera’s narrative has a Garrison-Keillor feel to it as stories sometimes evolve into others, or, in many cases, they are just a random set that neatly fits within specific chronological time frames. While Chimera’s stories are interesting, there is not much in the way of elements of surprise. And certainly readers who are looking for a skewed fictional novel filled with a plethora of un-hackneyed scenes, will be sorely disappointed with Chimera’s anecdotes. However, those who have experienced their fair share of dysfunctional family situations, especially mixed with some form of mental illness (which could easily be more readers than one may think – who knows?), will find Buffalo Poker the next best intriguing read.

Reviewed By:

Star Count 5/5
Format eBook
Page Count 180 pages
Publisher Thomas Chimera
Publish Date 14-Feb-2015
ISBN 9781511629904
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue April 2015
Category Humor/Fiction


  1. Lisa Blackwood

    I don’t think the author’s main character played the victim of his upbringing at all as said in this review. Actually if I am not mistaken the book actually stated the opposite. But either way this book was a page turner and definitely worth reading. I feel like it could strike a cord in anyone that dares to read it. To me this book it is about having the courage to to admitt to one’side mistakes/destiny and finding it within oneself to not give up but to overcome by making sacrifices to be there for someone they love unconditionally. My best friend once said she had never realized she could feel so much love for one person until holding her first born child. I totally agree. I recommend this book!

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