The Old Priest is a book of transformations. From the seamy underbelly of casino life and its get-rich-quick schemes, to the title character morphing into a goat before his protégé’s eyes, to a family upended by a miniature dinosaur in their back yard, Anthony Wallace writes about life-changing events and their consequences. The characters, cut from the well-worn cloth of hardscrabble lives, confront circumstances and memories that will alter their personal trajectories. Through wry and ironic prose, and what feels like firsthand experience, Wallace details a comic and often deluded search for self-gratification in the most unlikely locations—such as the Emerald City Bar, where a waitress dressed as an x-rated Dorothy offers clientele more than just a highball; or the Bastille Casino, where dealers in French Revolutionary garb fleece patrons, among them a Holocaust survivor. We soon learn that the victims or anyone else in these tales are not above reproach; they too have personal demons. Far from redemptive, the stories in The Old Priest instead offer hard lessons that are both revealing and knowing.