Matchstick Men: A Novel About Grifters with Issues
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Matchstick Men: A Novel About Grifters with Issues

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  539 ratings  ·  57 reviews
Roy and Frankie are matchstick men — con artists. Partners in crimes for years, they know each other like brothers and have perfected their games. Roy is the careful one, saves every penny. Frankie is the greedy one, always in debt, needing another big score. Roy is distracted by the discovery of a teenage daughter from a brief short marriage. She's affectionate, sweet, an...more
Paperback, 228 pages
Published July 8th 2003 by Random House (first published 2002)
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Casey Hampton
A quick read that lacks depth. But still, it's kind of fun... well, maybe not precisely. I was ready for the story to be over, and was sourly disappointed with the ending. So maybe I'd call this a greasy spoon burger book.

On the cover, it states "Grifters with issues." This made me laugh, then it prompted me to lookup the word. It's a good word. If you don't know it, slide that fat dictionary off the shelf and put it to use. Wait. Do folks still use dictionaries and bookshelves? I do, but I'm no...more
An Odd1
"Matchstick Men" by Eric Garcia is about "grifters with issues", and a different ending from the Nicholas Cage film changes the whole meaning. Brilliant con-man Roy, putting on weight, adding compulsive rituals, constantly bile-nauseated, is berated by his long-time partner Frankie, always in debt, wanting more scams. New psychiatrist Dr Klein, tracks down Roy's unknown daughter Angela, now 14. She wants to learn the business. Klein doesn't write prescriptions for pill bottles handed out freely....more
Jay
I have the movie Matchstick Men coming soon on Netflix. And with a long car ride upcoming, I decided to pick this book up on tape (I actually didn't even know this was a book). I ended up really enjoying it. Garcia does a fantastic job writing this. There is a nice mix of humor, action, suspense, and relationships in the book. What is most impressive is his character development. Roy is a con man. At one point he steals over $6,000 from a mother of five. Everything in her bank account is just go...more
Aimee
It's a cool story. Two men engaged in embezzlement, living a good life, as they thought, pulling tricks whenever they want and managing to escape without getting caught. Then suddenly the older men found out that he had a daughter, finally decided it's time to go slow and be settled. Took in her daughter and pull in a final stint with his partner, a newbie and his own daughter but luck wasn't on their side this time and their supposed to be one final team-up got screwed up and the newbie turned...more
Kim
Jul 24, 2014 Kim rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one who's seen the film
Shelves: mental-illness
TWO STARS

If you've seen the film adaptation, reading this is kind of pointless. The write-up claims "Different than the film starring Nicholas Cage, still a surprise twist ending". It's bullshit. It's the same damn thing.

If you haven't seen the film, that's different. Maybe you'll enjoy it. But I read this looking for something it was claimed to be but wasn't, hence the low rating.
Mike
At times predictable but obviosly written with compassion and love. Roy suffers from OCD and his obsessions are interfering with his life as a grifter (conman, bull-runner, etc.) Many plot twists later and you have a satisfying ending and a smidge of moral compass toward the end.

This is not perfect, some of the plot twists are easily figured out, even early on, however Garcia is an engaging writer with wit and a tremendous ability to create atmosphere and build a setting in the mind. I enjoyed t...more
M
When you are a con artist, trust becomes an important issue. Eric Garcia explore this idea through professional con men Roy and Frankie. Roy is the more neurotic of the pair, finding himself downing pills in order to beat back his OCD; Frankie is a free-spender, more than willing to play the con if the score is big enough. During a visit to his psychiatrist, Roy discovers the daughter he never knew in 14-year-old Angela. As Angela weasels into Roy's life, Frankie worries there may be more to thi...more
Lynn
Aug 20, 2014 Lynn rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: audio
A well written tale of small-time hustlers that spends as much time on the characters as on the cons.
Joanne
You can't con a con man or can you? This novel was a great rainy day weekend read. It describes the life of a con man/grifter who discovers he has a teenage daughter. The realization makes him think twice abuot his lifestyle. Roy has to deal with some "mental illness" and the easy money made with cons vs. a stable job to provide for his child. His "pal" Frankie tries to steer him into continuing the game. The book was also made into a movie with Nicholas Cage, but I never saw the whole thing. If...more
Jennifer
This was one of the few exceptions to the general rule that the book is better than the movie. Perhaps it is because it is shorter (226 pages) and thus, the character development wasn't as significant, or perhaps it is more fun to watch the magic of "slight of hand" card tricks and cons. I'm not sure. However, the book was entertaining enough and the perfect light read for the subway or the beach. You'll finish it pretty quickly, and have the same satisfaction as reading any other short story.
Chris
Quite often when an author creates a character that is more complicated than the world around him it tends to make for a boring plot. This is far from the case in Matchstick Men. You're going through this (seemingly) realitively simplistic cat-and-mouse con artist world with a protragonist that is anything but simple. Great story, great character development and it keeps you guessing until the end.

Far better than the movie, too.
Isaac
This was another short book that I just grabbed at the library. I remember wanting to see the movie but I never got around to it.

It was pretty good. There were some good twists. I was able to foresee most of them, but not to the point or ruining it.

The story is about two con men who are partners and how they played The Big C. Anyway for a casual read it was good. It had some language if that bothers you.
Emilia
Not a bad story per se, but I've read and watched enough grifter stories to predict how this one was going to end. I'm not a big "I'm going to outsmart this story," person, either. There was just an image that made my brain flash onto the answer. I guess that's what people mean when they talk about "telegraphing the ending?"

I love con men, though. I'll still see the movie just for fun.
Andy Matthews
Good solid read. Finished in a day. The ending was sad...but that's the life of a con man right?
Zoe
May 27, 2007 Zoe rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Con artists.
Shelves: 2006books, fiction
Everyone always says the book is better than the movie, but the movie has Nicholas Cage (whom I enjoy very much), so I don't know about that. The movie follows the book pretty closely, so if you enjoyed one, you'll probably enjoy the other. Anyway, if you want a quick, funny read about con artists, this book is for you.
Lola4
Clever, clever book, engrossing and moving. Coincidently, the movie played on TV right after I finished the book. It was enjoyable, too, but changed some details of the ending so that the movie is kinder. Won't say which I liked better or why in order to avoid spoilers; just try both.
Sally
Rarely do I like the film better than the book, but in this case I think the adaptation wins. I could not stop seeing Nic Cage as the obsessive-compulsive, which is okay by me, but the plot is better paced in a two hour movie than a two-day read. Worth it, after all.
BoekenTrol
Jul 13, 2012 BoekenTrol marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to BoekenTrol by: hema-verf
The Stichting Overal in Nijmegen cleared out some shelves. I received part of the books from hema-verf in a book box in Castricum. Thanks!

Did not see the movie (or maybe I did) and did not read the book (I know that for sure), so this one will stay a while.

Deniz
Just a fun story all around with characters that really came to life. I really enjoyed this one on audio book, and Stanley Tucci did a fantastic job in the reading. Easily the most well read audio book I've listened to, and I'd highly recommend this one.
Jacob
picked this up not knowing it was a movie too . . . cool story about a world you don't often think about (con men) . . . "the book is better than the movie" (but you could easily watch the movie and get the same idea if you're feeling more movie-esque)
Luke
Different to the filmed version (and in some ways inferior, I have to say) this is a pretty rapid read about shysters. Great OCD-style characterisations, though the end *is* pretty guessable. Still, that doesn't spoil the fun.
Corri
(Read by TBD)

I very much enjoyed this book. I liked the description of the main character's OCD and how he was willing to pass by that for his newly found daughter. I also was surprised about the twist at the end.
Gary Geiger
Nice twist at the end of this one.
Theo Petersen
Better than the movie, but with some of the same issues -- how do the bad guys make everything work out so cleanly, et cetera. I like both versions of Roy, hard to pick one or the other.


Jinger
Jun 01, 2008 Jinger rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2007
I shouldn't have read this after being such a big fan of the movie. It's good, but the adaptation completely overshadowed the original for me.
Brian Krueger
Pretty solid read very good story and great ending... had already seen the movie so I knew the story already but the book was pretty well written
Tim
I guessed the ending fairly early on, or I might have rated this higher. But finding out the details kept me interested to the end.
Julie Ward
Loved the dialogue in this book! Pulled me in and suckered me perfectly; I was cursing at the end of the book! Lol. Good job Eric Garcia!
Pat Shealy
Based on the Movie "Catch Me If You Can" with Leonardo cutie pie from who also was in Titanic. I can't spell his last name.
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158804
Eric Garcia grew up in Miami, Florida, and attended Cornell University and the University of Southern California, where he majored in creative writing and film. He lives outside Los Angeles with his wife, daughter, and dachshund. He is also developing a series for the Sci Fi channel based on the Rex novels.
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