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The Hustler

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  1,110 ratings  ·  100 reviews
"A wonderful hymn to the last true era when men of substance played pool with a vengeance."-Time Out

When it was first published in 1959, The Hustler was the first--and the best--novel written about billiards in the 400-year history of the game. The book quickly won a respected readership and later an audience for the movie with the same name starring Paul Newman and Jackie
Paperback, 224 pages
Published December 31st 2002 by Da Capo Press (first published 1959)
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4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,110 ratings  ·  100 reviews

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Aug 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit
“When the bottles hit they tinkled and jangled noisily; but Eddie did not hear them because of the overriding - yet distant, detached, far-off - sound of his own screaming.”

I saw The Hustler for the first time recently, I love the atmosphere and the mood that drifts from nihilism to hope, Paul Newman struggling with the anger and hatred inside of himself in between long silent brooding takes. And I knew within the first chapter of reading the words of Walter Tevis that all of it stemmed from her
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cinque stelle per questo classico di Tevis che in una delle sue prime fatiche letterarie ci regala non solo una storia appassionante fatta di sale fumose, dolore e decadenze, ettolitri di scotch, piccoli e grandi criminali, biglie che si inseguono sul panno verde, lampade che vincono sul sole e improbabili amori tra reietti, ma ci consegna anche due giganti della letteratura americana, due personaggi mitici come Fast Eddie Felson e Minnesota Fats, i due sublimi perdenti che è così difficile sepa ...more
Kevin Seccia
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lista-dei-24
Lo spaccone è il primo libro che leggo di Tevis e chissà perché, come per Steinbeck, mi aspettavo una lettura più pesante. E invece ho trovato un libro bellissimo con uno stile notevole: scorrevole, limpido e con immagini fotografiche che riescono a far vedere perfettamente quello che succede in quel momento, anche per chi come me non è appassionato a questo sport.
Di per sé la storia è semplice un ragazzo bravo a giocare a biliardo che tenta la fortuna per guadagnare soldi. Ma il libro è molto
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Romanzo bellissimo, con una scrittura secca ed essenziale, ma molto cinematografica ed estremamente efficace nelle descrizioni. Non sono una patita di biliardo, so a malapena che esiste, ma quando Tevis racconta i duelli (non si possono definire altrimenti) attorno al tappeto verde, lo fa in modo tale che il lettore riesce a percepire lo schiocco delle bilie, la tensione dei giocatori e l'indolenzimento agli arti dopo ore di gioco.
Non si limita a questo, perché l'analisi del comportamento di Edd
Ben Loory
Jun 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jim Cherry
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You probably know the story of “The Hustler” from the 1961 Paul Newman movie of the same name. It’s the tale of small time pool hustler Eddie Felson who wants to move from the small time to the big time by playing the best pool player, Minnesota Fats. He loses to Fats, falls for a woman, gets his thumbs broken, is taught how to win by gambler Bert, and has a rematch with Fats. It’s all there, the pleasure comes in the prose of Tevis’ writing.

The prose is sepia tinged as it should be for the worl
Carole Morin
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Daniel Polansky
Loved this. Loved it. The perfect antidote to the last five. The story of Fast Eddie's attempt to become the greatest pool player in America, a hill that he must climb over the corpse of Minnesota Fats (the names, right? The Names!) Fast, sharply written, a meditation on, basically, the Will to Power as expressed over a pool table. The character sketches are divine, I spent a lot of time reading it and laughing loudly in bars. Definitely check this out.
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
che dire... se lo scrittore riesce a tenere incollato il lettore al suo romanzo parlando di biliardo... poi ovviamente c'è molto di più tra i personaggi riuscitissimi e le ambientazioni che non chiedono di meglio che essere messe in scena ( film del 1961 con Paul Newman). Lo metto tra i preferiti.
Jun 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: orgasmic
Such great writing.. precise, hardboiled, real-sounding dialogue and vivid, sad characters. It's been years since I've seen the movie but I couldn't help but visualise Paul Newman while reading this, he just nailed that part.
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, deportes
Estuve a punto de dejarlo un par de veces y no por malo o por lento, sino porque me parecía que la película estaba tan bien adaptada que no me aportaba nada nuevo. Pero afortunadamente no lo hice y fué en el último cuarto del libro en el que los argumentos divergen. Distintos finales para una misma historia (una gran historia). No sabría decir cual de los dos es mejor. Pero si, que el de la novela es menos dramático y más acorde al desarrollo del personaje.
Es la segunda novela que leo de Tevis
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
او حقیقت بازی را دریافته بود و آن؛ چیزی نبود جز دانستن هدف بازی. پیروزی، شکست دادن حریف.
عشق به بازی، عشق به هنری است که از طریق آن، زندگی می کنی. باید بخواهی پیروز شوی، بدون بهانه و فریب خودت. تنها در این صورت است که حق داری به بازی خود، عشق بورزی.
نیاز به پیروزی، در کل زندگی وجود دارد. در هر حرکتی، در هر گفتگویی، در هر مواجهه ای بین انسان ها.

Jun 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I've heard that pool can be a dirty game," she said.
He put the comb back in his pocket.
"People say that," he said. "I've heard people say that myself."
"You're being comical," she said, trying to make her voice sound dry. And then, "Is it dirty?"
... "yes, it's dirty." He felt of his face, which needed a shave. "Anyway you look at it, it's dirty."

"It was like a whorehouse Saturday night and payday in the mines; the day the war was over and Christmas. He could feel his palms sweating for the weigh
Paul Beech
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Tevis's first novel only just merits 4 stars, as it suffers from the same problem as his own 'Mockingbird' - a good premise, a great first half, then a gentle but noticeable decline in quality. Tevis's writing here is mostly very fine, but it's almost as if he couldn't keep his enthusiasm from sagging midway through the process. The careful development and attention to detail that characterise the first 100 pages gives way to a rushed and underdeveloped summing-up. The climatic contest between E ...more
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! Play to win.

A short novel about a pool player trying to become a great one. I thought it was going to be the typical story but it kept surprising me. It transported me to the pool saloons and made me care for the protagonist and his quest for self improvement.
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The eye opening book.
May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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,
Jun 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Pablo Fern�ndez
No vi la película original, aunque sí la secuela El Color del Dinero y después de más de diez años, he leído el libro primario. No puedo decir más que, aun teniendo ciertas reservas al comienzo –billares y buscavidas no me entusiasman demasiado -, he dado con un libro repleto de referencias y sobre todo, aceptadas críticas, no solamente al mundo al cual se dirige. No. También a la sociedad en general. Una forma de ‘far west’ de los años 50-60 en el que se intercalan realidades y paralelismos cua ...more
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like reading Tevis. Tagging this "toreread"
Great Movie, too.


While in Air Force, enjoyed a season bowling with a hustler. (Chicago Izzy - at Space Lanes, near Omaha) Won a bit of tournament money with him. Stayed out of pot games when he was on. Hard be comprehend him being that good using house balls.

There is an enjoyable art to sandbagging with a bowling ball. Being a librarian and and outsider, I enjoyed being "eccentric" in my approach to the pins, after moving to cowboy county ...

Lars Guthrie
Feb 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Pat Cannon
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is one of my favorite movies but I had never read the book. Walter Tevis had a remarkable understanding of how pool hustling worked. I would recommend reading this even if you have seen the movie because there are many details in the book that will enrich your understanding of what motivated Fast Eddie Felson. Except for a few dated references, this is a story that could be told in a modern setting with very little change to the plot.
William Boyle
Sep 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Daniel Jon Kershaw
Aug 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing

The Hustler explores the dingy, low class world of the American pool hall with a minimalist style that reminded me of John Fante. Tevis delves into psyche of a sport where money and self worth are intertwined. Beautiful drawn and seedy characters litter the pages in-between poetic descriptions of pool.

I was hustled into giving this book 5 stars.
Chris O'kill
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
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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.
“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.”
“To love the game itself is a fine thing; it is loving the art you live by.” 3 likes
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