The Hustler
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The Hustler

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  367 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Fast Eddie is an arrogant and talented pool shark who has decided that winning a few dollars here and there is not enough, so he heads for the infamous Chicago pool halls. Then he meets two people: a woman who's willing to love him, and a man able to prepare him to take on another, bigger, hustle. But in Chicago nothing, it seems, comes for free.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 5th 2005 by TRAFALGAR SQUARE + (first published 1959)
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Kevin Seccia
Sep 05, 2012 Kevin Seccia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kevin by: Sarah
The Hustler is pretty close to perfect. And better for your morale than a half-dozen self help books, chased with a handful of Xanax.

When I started reading it I had twenty dollars to my name, now I have five (the book wasn't free), and all the secrets to the universe.

"It's always nice to feel the risks fall off your back. And winning; that can be heavy on your back too, like a monkey. You drop that load too when you find yourself an excuse. Then, afterward, all you got to do is learn to feel so...more
An absolutely perfect novel. Tevis is a writer who makes me go "Holy shit, did you fucking see what he just did there? That was bad-to-the-ass!" Seriously, a textbook about how to write a perfect novel. I read it in three hours.
Carole Morin
Carole Morin, author of Spying on Strange Men, reviews the fiction of Walter Tevis

Paul Newman was told he wasn't sexy enough to be an actor. A rich man's son, he didn't have the street cred of Brando and Dean who studied at Lee Strasberg's Actors' Studio around the same time.

His performance in The Hustler makes a mockery of Strasberg's judgment. The Hustler, Walter Tevis' first novel, is exceptional not only in being a brilliant book but the movie based on it is also great.

Three of Tevis's 4 no...more
From a pool players perspective (and I have played competitively for over 15 years) this book has amazing insight into the mind of a player. I enjoyed it immensely as well as the follow-up "The Color of Money". This one is a little different from the movie version (less about the love story and more about the game), while the later bares no resemblance to the book other than the title.

I think you can enjoy them both even if you don't play pool, even more so if you have ever competed at any sport...more
Ben Loory
so far i've read three walter tevis books: this, Mockingbird, and The Man Who Fell to Earth, and i don't think there's been a word out of place in any of them. incredible.
Absolutely the quintessential novel about pool and the pool once hustler, written in its heyday. Gritty prose typical of the era. Great ending. Once I started, I did not want to put it down - Read it in under four hours.

I think I saw the movie some fifty years ago that starred Jackie Gleason. I do not think I saw the sequel, "The Color of Money." As both are considered "classics," I gotta checked them out too.

For those who yearn for the America of the 1950s, here's a sample, about the anti-hero,...more
Though I've never seen the film adaptation of The Hustler, I suspect (or at least hope) it's considerably better than the book. The story is somewhat interesting, but all of the characters are fairly one-dimensional and I really disliked the protagonist. The writing style is very spare, somewhat like Steinbeck or Hemingway, but not nearly of that caliber. At very rare moments, it has the almost poetic feel of good Hemingway, but it's, mostly unremarkable or even bad. The author seems to be more...more
Lars Guthrie
A classic by an under-recognized writer. Makes me want to investigate more of Tevis. A truly American story about a man trying to invent himself--'to think of himself as an insurance salesman or a shoe clerk would have been only absurd'--driving across America's open spaces, living outside the law, but within his own code of honor. And where does he end up? Not too far away from the insurance salesman and the shoe clerk: "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." 'The Great Gatsby' placed in The...more
William Boyle
Can't believe I haven't read this until now. I've always loved the movie, and I've had a swell pocket-sized Dell paperback of the book hanging around for about fifteen years. Finally picked it up two days ago and tore through it. A perfect, beautiful little novel. Loaded with great characters, but Sarah, the alcoholic grad student, might be my favorite--She has a picture of a sad clown up on her wall and that's tough to top.
Ok, I hate pool, see? My Dad hustled pool and we ended up with mysterious appliances that he said "fell off of a truck". And a lot of Keebler's cookies. But I digress: Walter Tevis is a genius novellist. Every word so precisely chosen, so put in just the right place, the plot effortless and the dialogue just perfect. Characters? Don't even get me started.
Chris O'kill
What a fantastic book. I'd read the Color of Money first and had to read this one too. Atmospheric, gritty and brought the tables and poolrooms to life. I know why the likes of the mighty Lawrence Block enjoyed his books. Just a shame there aren't that many.
Creme de la creme of pool books. You know you're a pool player when you can't even read 10 pages without putting it down and running to the nearest pool hall.
Excellent book. The hardest decision to make is in deciding which story has more pathos; in the film she dies, in the book she lives on as a lush.
Stephen Curran
A seedy quest story, and a meditation on winning and losing, executed as elegantly and efficiently as an eight ball slipping into a corner pocket.

It is in the descriptions of the pool games that the writing really comes alive. Eddie Felson's forty hour stint against Minnesota Fats – all fourteen pages of it – is perfectly pitched and paced, so vividly realised that you feel you could be stood alongside our 'hero' in Bennington's, experiencing his every high and low. Unsurprisingly given Tevis's...more
Jeannie Walker
Read the book and saw the movie! Loved both!
All of his books are excellent.
The story revolves around Fast Eddie Felson, a pool hustler who travels to Chicago to challenge the great Minnesota Fats. He loses spectacularly, picks up a girl, gains character, and comes back for a rematch.

This is a case where seeing the movie for the first time made me check out the book to try and get a better handle on the story. After rereading and rewatching, the film and novel have become intertwined for me. I can't read the book without picturing the actors as the characters, and I can...more
For some reason that I'm not aware of at the time of purchase, I've only been reading first novels these days. First, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, followed by Less Than Zero, on to The Secret History and finally this one, Tevis's first, inspired by his working at a poolhall. I'm not sure why I've been subconsciously doing this, but it must mean something. And all in all, every work is about as different in every way as possible, as just as good as the next.

I have to agree with a former reviewer...more
I so wanted to rate this four stars, and if it hadn't been for the unnecessarily harsh treatment of a female character in the middle part of the novel, I would have. Now, Reader, before you accuse me of being "That Guy who enrolls in a Feminine Studies class because he claims he has an 'englightened' view of gender but really just wants to hit on girls" and remind me that "The Hustler" was written in the 50s and that was the way it worked in the 50s, let me tell you that I have read 50s masculin...more
A look at a young pool hustler's spiral, this novel delves into the nature and drive of its protagonist Fast Eddie Felson. After a brutal defeat in a round-the clock-game against Minnesota Fats, Fast Eddie must rediscover himself and battle anew.

The book looks at Fast Eddie's efforts to channel his immense talent and how the world around him swirls. Is Eddie a born loser as one of his handler's suggests?

The film adaptation sticks very close to this novel, but there are a few differences and ma...more
Walter Tevis is one of my favorite writers that no one has heard of--or rather, they know the movies based on his books (this one, "The Man Who Fell To Earth"), but not the writer. He has a great, bleak, spare style, and his main characters are all very alone, rather sad, but very distinct. I've never seen the movie, but I can't imagine it can convey the game of pool with any more richness. Not quite as good as my favorite, "The Queen's Gambit" (which does even better for chess), but extremely r...more
Hey! That was pretty good! I like even better that he doesn't spell it all out for you at the end. So many authors can't help themselves in that regard and I find it interminably irritating. Thank you Mr. Tevis.

One: because they don't have the movie at our video store and I want to know the back story of Fast Eddie after watching The Color of Money during our Paul Newman tribute week.
Two: because I happened upon it randomly at the library and so took it as a sign.
I liked this book. Having seen the movie, I couldn't help but picture Paul Newman and Piper Laurie as the main characters (which is why I always like reading a book first, so my imagination creates characters according to the author's description, rather than Hollywood's). I'm always drawn to good character studies, and this was subtle yet compelling. Moving on to the sequel, "The Color of Money", next on my reading list.
The characters were interesting and had a fair amount of depth to them. The sports philosophy stuff gave the book a good central premise to drape itself around. Walter Tevis is a good writer; this was an enjoyable read and i flowed through it pleasantly.

It's pretty good but I can't really gush about it. I look forward to reading more by Tevis anyway.
Half way through. Savouring it. Better than the movie - which I love(d). Tevis also wrote `The Man Who Fell To Earth` ; which critics say was based on his own feeling of being a stranger in a strange land. Another excellent novel, and film.

Tremendous. The best sports book i ever read. 'English' it Eddie ! ;-O
Michael Chrisman
I read this book the day the mayan calender ended while i was staying at the weingart downtown los angeles skid row. Quick read, kinda predictable, i almost like sarha as much as i like marla from fight club and fast eddies pretty cool too.
Walter Tevis offers the reader a chance to peer into the world of the pool shark. Even if you don't play the game yourself it is a riveting read, which inspired the the classic Paul Newman film, "The Huslter"
I sure like this Tevis fellow. Precise, simple writing, and a great little story of a pool player finding out what it means to be a winner. Feels very much of its time, the '50s. Which is a good thing.
Chris Gager
Easy to confuse reading the book with seeing the movie. I'm not sure which I did first. I do remember the last line of the movie(George C. Scott's): "You owe me money!"... Date read is approximate.
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Walter Stone Tevis was an American novelist and short story writer. Three of his six novels were adapted into major films: The Hustler, The Color of Money and The Man Who Fell to Earth. His books have been translated into at least 18 languages.
More about Walter Tevis...
Mockingbird The Man Who Fell to Earth The Queen's Gambit The Color of Money Steps of the Sun

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“And winning; that can be heavy on your back, too, like a monkey. You drop that load too when you find yourself an excuse."
And Bert seemed to relax, knowing he had scored, had pushed his way through Eddie’s consciousness and through his defenses, although Eddie still only partly understood all of what Bert had said, and was already prepared to rationalize the truth out of what he did understand. But Bert had suddenly quit pushing, and seemed now to be merely relaxing with his drink. "That’s your problem," he said.”
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