“The Dice Man” is the faux-autobiographic story of a psychiatrist who, bored with his ordinary routine life, decides one evening to let a die determine his next action. If the die shows a 6, he does one thing, otherwise something else.

He finds the experience exhilarating and liberating, and goes on to let the dice decide more and more of his life. At first the decisions are small, but later on he includes options such as leaving his family, killing someone, etc. As the psychiatrist he is, he also decides to spread this new idea as a therapeutic technique, as a way for everyone to learn that the self is malleable and not fixed, everyone can be anyone.

The premise is that we all have minority selves, impulses that push us in different directions, but we are taught and encouraged to extinguish and suppress most of them, to create a coherent self. This coherent self is only an illusion, and, what’s worse, an illusion that only causes struggle and boredom. Somehow Luke also links this to Zen ideas of letting go of the self.

The choices that Luke makes are driven by the dice, but they’re ultimately framed by the options he sets out before he throws the dice. And the options he comes up with tend to involve lots of sex and fair amounts of violence. Initially I got the impression that he was supposed to be your average self-absorbed sex-obsessed man, to show us how everyone has violence in them. But he seemed more like a psychopath, unaffected by the violent acts that the dice “tell” him to commit, feeling no empathy or remorse. While this leads to lots of explicit sex (which may get you ’cool points’ from the lads) it also leads to an aimless plot, and a rather simple, uncomplicated and thus uninteresting man.

And that’s my main gripe with the book. The basic idea is a great one, but the story that it develops into really doesn’t make much of it. The plot is weak and gradually unravels; the style becomes more and more uneven – which was probably an intentional choice, but that doesn’t make it any more successful. Basically the second half of the book didn’t add much, after I’d read the first half. And yet there are so many things one could do with this idea!

Nevertheless there was something strangely compelling about this book. I cannot get this idea of randomness-directed decisions out of my mind. Even though I really didn’t think it was a good book, I’d recommend you to read it anyway.

Amazon US, Amazon UK.