First Impressions: Positively Fifth Street

Positively Fifth Street by James McManus

Positively Fifth Street

McManus invites comparison to Hunter S. Thompson by referencing him so heavily in the first self-narrative section of Positively Fifth Street, then coyly disclaiming the comparison he’s attracting. If gonzo is a tone and an attidude, then yes, McManus does fit the label. Most people know the story by now, but for those who don’t, McManus doesn’t keep it a secret that he plans to gamble his advance for a magazine article about the World Series of Poker (and the next-door Binion murder trial) in the event itself. In fact, his advance doesn’t even cover the entry, so he plans to play satellites to win his entry.

McManus’s writing is very accessible, with an interesting tone that isn’t quite as … acid-influenced as HST’s, but has his very own knee-deep in the muck attitude. It’s very immediate, very in-the-moment. At the risk of over-emphasizing this point, you get to feel every emotion right along with him.

I’m not sure how I feel about his admittedly speculative account of the Binon murder. Again, he puts the reader in the moment, making us doubt things could have happened any other way. But clearly there are people out there that doubt the account.

Most readers are dreaming the dream. McManus lived it and wrote about it, gonzo-style.

Leave a Reply