ABSTRACT – LUKE RHINEHART – THE DICE MAN. 1971 Harper Collins nusually for an obviously fictional novel like this, Rhinehart uses his own name and a first person point of view narration, which gives the book a documentary-autobiographical feel. At least that is the impression he would like to give. In fact, Rhinehart was a pseudonym for George Cockcroft. In the book, Rhinehart decides to randomise his life by making every moral and social decision on the throw of a dice. He even makes references to the god of whim and chance. The dice begin to dictate every decision in his life from what to eat, who to date, whether or not to commit rape (he does) and whether or not to commit murder. (He does). As a psychiatrist, Rhinehart begins to use the dice in his decisions for his patients, and openly encourages them to use dice in their own decision making processes, which creates a craze and a cult for dice-teachings, and causes great offence to the school of Psycho-therapy in which Rhinehart works. There are moments of great humour, such as the parties at which Rhinehard disrupts through his constantly contrary and eccentric behaviour dictated by chance.
At one point the dice tell him to be Jesus for the day. To many, he has simply lost his mind. Perhaps he has. Perhaps he is the sanest man left in America. Rhinehart himself becomes uncontrollably addicted to his dice, just as a gambler would, and effectively ruins his material life, his job, income, etc, but he finds the randomising chaotic process liberating. He is seen at the end of the story being pursued by the authorities for his crimes but somehow happier than he has ever been before in his life. The book is a savage satire on the American obsession with psychotherapy and religion, and a material world in which few would dare to take chances, and decisions just for the sheer hell of it. This reads as a subversive and often extremely funny book, and it is extremely tempting to get a setoff dice out and try some of the games for yourself, as some readers do in fact do. This is a timeless classic in the Joseph Heller tradition.