Excellent Book - The Hustler (yes, the basis for the Paul Newman movie)

I have been meaning to post this for a week or so, since I finished the book.

I want to strongly recommend reading The Hustler by Walter Tevis. It is short, a well-written page turner that is very well structured, moves along crisply, has a solid arc to it with a cool climax, a bit of love interest - you get the idea. From my recollection of the movie, they share a lot of the same appeal. Bottom line, at the very least, it is very readable and a good story. Fast Eddie Felson vs. Minnesota Fats in a badass pool match is intense in whatever form you can get it, right?

But it is so much more - I mean, sure, it has a 50’s noir-ish feel and Tevis constructs sentences kinda like Dashiell Hammett meets Hemingway - clipped and very noun-and-verb, so the few hard-boiled adjectives and cool Runyonesque nicknames stand out as splashes of color. But the real standout aspect of this book is its embrace of the Man Code - this book is Man 101. As Fast Eddie shows up cocky, reaches for the brass ring, fails and learns to pick himself up, Tevis narrates the arc with an clear, plainspoken framing of what it means to be a Man - once you are past the talent you have, and the practicing you’ve done, and the passion you feel - at some point, you have to reach inside yourself and decide what kind of Man you are (and I mean this regardless of gender - in this cool-guy sense of personal integrity and strength, a woman can totally Man Up). The various pool matches Fast Eddie has punctuate this education and bring it to life.

The voice of the writing is melodramatic enough to feel noir and gritty, but not so over-the-top as to dilute the power of the wisdom in the words. Good stuff - I love it when genre entertainment is so anchored on good story and structure that it can speak to the Big Truths. Check it out.

My public library has a copy, so I will literally be checking it out. Thanks for the excellent review.

Cool - and ask your neighbor-the-award-winning-author about it; given the style of his book (Knockemstiff), I would bet you he has read and likes it.

I read this many years ago. I do remember liking it. I also remember that the movie was more enjoyable after reading the book.

I can tell already I’d get a lot more out of the movie (and I got a lot out as it was) after reading the book. Great review, I’ll pick it up.

Thank goodness for interlibrary loans! Recommendation accepted.