Michael's Reviews > The Hustler

The Hustler by Walter Tevis
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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 (Chadwick Crawford) that The Hustler is a guideline for how to write a novel: simple, elegant, ambiguous characterization, surprising shifts, and thoroughly digestible in a short span of time. I am biased, however, as the film version (which is a little more frenetic and painful - i.e. the much more menacing figure of Bert as played by George C. Scott, and Sarah's fate) is probably one of the finest movies of the era. Also, I have this weird love of old poolhalls (a disappearing place of ritual smoke, shadiness and drab lighting), and so I would enjoy this book even if it were very, very bad, just for the fact that it conjures a place - no, it consumes a place - that I falsely reminisce having been a part of.

But this is a grimy book about grimy people who somehow manage (some of them) to transcend a simple game. I don't think I've ever read a book whose overt narrative and contextual metaphors are so flawlessly combined. Eddie Felson's phrase is the aptest here: "Fast and loose."
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Reading Progress

December 17, 2011 – Shelved
Started Reading
December 20, 2011 – Finished Reading

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