Life on the throw of a dice

29 November 2009

By Nathan Morley

Luke Rhinehart is the acclaimed author of eight works of fiction, including the best selling Dice Man

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Mail, he tells Nathan Morley about living with dice and that Cyprus may feature in his latest project.

THE moment we started to communicate, I could see enormous wit and a sense of fun fly off the computer screen with each email that arrived.

Rhinehart, whose real name is George Cockcroft, has been something of a cult figure in the literary world for over 30 years. He first made his mark as an author back in the 1970s with his most famous book The Dice Man.

However, in the past decade, the book has undergone a miraculous rebirth and has been republished and is now selling more copies throughout the world than ever before.

“I have concluded that The Dice Man is a young person’s book,” Rhinehart tells the Sunday Mail. “Or a book for people who haven’t settled on who they are or who they want to be. It helps some young readers to see how vast the possibilities of life might be.”

Recently, Time Out called The Dice Man, “The most fashionable novel of the early 1970s,” and the BBC named it, “One of the fifty most influential books of the last half of the twentieth century.”

For those of you who don’t know the synopsis, the title says it all. The concept of the book is so simplistic, that it borders on genius.

The central character is fed up of his life as a husband, father and psychologist. He is also besotted with a concept that we all have multiple personalities, most of which never see the light because we suppress them for whatever reason (usually common sense). However he decides to shake up his life by giving himself a set of options in a given situation and then allot each one to the number on a dice.

So, he throws the dice, and goes with the option. The rules are that he must not give himself any option which he would not be prepared to follow through, and whatever the dice decides, he must follow no matter what.

Sounds like fantasy, but for Rhinehart, the character became an absolute reality.

“I began experimenting with making decisions with dice in my late teens, and off and on for the next 20 years I continued experimenting,” he told the Sunday Mail.

“I even picked up my wife as the result of a dice decision, although the decision to marry her I made on my own. And when I was 34 I was teaching a seminar on freedom and for the first time advanced to others the notion that the ultimate freedom from the pressures of society might be by making decisions by casting dice.”

The concept amazed some people – and won new admirers, but others were left shell shocked by such a radical way of living.

“The students were so fascinated or appalled by this idea that I realised that it might be something special (for me it had always been ordinary). So I began writing a book about someone who decides to see how far he can take giving his life over to chance.”

Despite spin-offs of the book having made it to the small screen, producers in Hollywood have still to kick start a movie version; it is a situation which has frustrated Rhinehart for some time.

“Stars like Jack Nicholson, Bruce Willis, and Nicholas Cage have been interested, and literally 50 or 60 producers over the years have contacted me or Paramount Pictures about making the film, nothing has happened.

“It’s a frustrating situation. At this very moment four different production companies have been in touch with me within the last month wanting either to talk to Paramount about wanting to make the film or wanting to buy back the film rights from Paramount in order to make a film free from Paramount’s creative input.”

Over the succeeding decades Rhinehart produced a stream of books that were praised by reviewers; and now film producer Andrew Bonner-Walter is planning to turn Naked Before the World and The Search for the Dice Man, the sequel to The Dice Man, into big-screen entertainment.

The project is set to begin shooting in February and Cyprus is being touted as a possible location for some of the movie.

“This week we are talking to a company that we hope will be instrumental in funding our musical film based on my novel Naked Before The World.

“The novel takes place in a small mountain village on Mallorca, and what we are looking for is a small mountain village near the sea and a national film funding agency that will encourage us with some money to film in its area. No commitment has yet been made to any such village in the Med, and we’re still exploring various possibilities.”

The film aims to bring to life the culture of the “hippies” versus “the establishment” and details a funny love story involving an innocent Yorkshire lass and the hippest of hippies. Casting is under way.

“I have no direct connection with the island except that the first person to hire me to write a screenplay was John “Chatters”, a Greek Cypriot, running a fashion business in London in 1990.”

Even with the sudden re-birth of The Dice Man, Rhinehart is disappointed that the text, which was published in Greek in Greece in the seventies has not been re-published there since.

“I recently reached an agreement with the Turkish publisher for them to publish all nine of my books. But on the other hand, I am saddened to report that Greece is one of only two countries in the world that has not republished The Dice Man.

“So let us use this interview to awaken the Greek publishing world to its shameful neglect of Luke Rhinehart,” he jokes.

I conclude by offering to Fed Ex Luke a bottle of Cyprus Brandy. “Save it till I get there,” he says. “I’ve heard it’s good.”

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