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Home Reviews Book Reviews Nothing could make me root for Frank Dixon

Nothing could make me root for Frank Dixon

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In his third novel, Ted Heller has created a character completely unaware of his many social and personal flaws.

Frustrated novelist Frank Dixon (no relation to the author of the Hardy Boys series) has submitted his third novel, “Dead on Arrival” (hint, hint) for publication, but can’t get through to his agent, Clint Reno, despite numerous e-mails, at first polite, but soon disintegrating into missives like this:


Haven’t heard from you in a while and I hope you are well. I’m not. I’ve been deathly ill of late. Very bad. Spent 4 nights in the hospital. Fever of 105.5

With that in mind, can you inform me as to the fate of DOA? Anything new on it at all? Bad news, good news?? Anything? It really, really would help me to know right now. I’m in a bad way.

Thank you so much.


To ease the stress of not knowing the fate of his work, Dixon turns to an on-line poker site, where he makes friends, develops schoolboy crushes on women based on their avatars, and amasses a great deal of money. In fact, he makes so much money playing poker online that he gives up his job

Dixon has a loyal wife who goes off to work in New York City every morning, while he loses hours at a time playing cards in cyberspace as Chip Zero.

Dixon’s virtual life soon takes over his real one. He continues to win a lot of real money, which allows him and “Wifey” to head to the islands so he can meet “Artsy Painter Girl,” his current online amore, who’s on vacation there with her investment banker husband and two children. That’s where the book goes off the rails.

Although she has plenty of clues (jewelry, a chinchilla coat, exotic vacations), and she’s no dummy – she has a high-powered job and makes good money – Wifey can’t seem to put two and two together.

Even after discovering Dixon hiding across the street at a Starbucks when he should be at work, Wifey  doesn’t put the pieces together.

I finished the book only because I wanted to see how Heller snapped Chip Zero back to reality.

No spoilers here – suffice it to say the boy goes down, in a big way.

But does he learn from his mistakes? No.

Heller is a clever writer, but not clever enough to make Frank Dixon worth my time.




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