Books: Exquisite Angst

CRAZY OVER HORSES by Sam Toperoff. 209 pages. Atlantic-Little Brown. $5.75.

As an embittered horseplayer recently remarked, "If they raced rats and placed Tote machines in Madison Square Garden, they could fill the joint with suckers every night." He was getting at a basic truth about the fascination of gambling. But what clearly eluded him—and what Sam Toperoff conveys with love in this oddly winning novelistic memoir—is the peculiar delight, the exquisite angst that horses (and wagering on them) give a really dedicated race-goer.

Toperoff is now a college teacher. For years, though,...

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