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The Hustler (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Walter Tevis
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

27 Aug 2009 Penguin Modern Classics
To Fast Eddie Felsen, a young pool hustler, there was only one thing that mattered: to make the big time and the big money in the world of pool by beating the best in the country. Hustling suckers in small towns for good stake money was practice for his goal and when he felt ready he went to Bennington's pool hall in Chicago to look for Minnesota Fats. Eddie and Fats pit nerve against skill in a fantastic match over an unbroken thirty-six hours. This contest shows Eddie some things he did not know about guts, stamina and "character" -- the difference between winners and losers, and it proves a hard and painful lesson to learn. It takes an interlude with Sarah, an alcoholic student and a born loser, to give the lesson meaning, and the shrewd advice and backing of Bert, a professional gambler, to put it into practice. Bert knows that talent without character is nothing and stakes Eddie to a climactic return match for all or nothing. When it is over, Eddie knows a great deal more about big-time pool, about money, and about himself. In beating Fats he has become the best in the country.

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The Hustler (Penguin Modern Classics) + The Queen's Gambit (Penguin Modern Classics) + The Man Who Fell to Earth (Penguin Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (27 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141190361
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141190365
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 351,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'This book sees the poetry of the pool game ... Fast Eddie's ascent up the ladder from pool shark to full-time hustler is the story of the will to power, told in cool fifties style' Guardian 'Tevis writes a stark, cut-down prose that admirably suits his tale of people who live on the edge of desperation in fifties Chicago' Irish Times 'If Hemingway has the passion for pool that he had for bullfighting, his hero might have been Eddie Felson' Time 'A wonderful hymn to the last true era when men of substance played pool with a vengeance' Time Out --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Walter Tevis (1928-1984) was an American novelist and short-story writer. He is best known for his novels The Hustler and The Man Who Fell to Earth which were adapted for film. He wrote three more novels -- Mockingbird, The Steps of the Sun and The Queen's Gambit - and a collection of short stories, Far From Home. He died in 1984.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast Eddie, fast read. 14 Oct 2010
Read it in one sitting. Pure brilliance, from start to finish. As an avid pool fan maybe my views are biased but I'm sure someone who has never even picked up a cue will love this too.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars short fast book made a long slow film 16 May 1999
By A Customer
The best book about pool. Later turned shot for shot into the film and hard not to visualise Paul Newman. If you like gambling you will like this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic novel - they should make a film of it... 23 April 2013
By Truman
The Hustler is a great read. I love American novels from this era - there's just something in they're written that impossible to capture, and they're often tightly constructed: not a single word goes to waste. The Hustler ranks up there with James Leo Herlihy's Midnight Cowboy. The story is gripping, the depiction of pool perfect (and let's face it, writing about a fast-paced game and making it seem every big as exciting as if you were actually there is a very difficult task in itself. I saw the film many years ago but I think I'll have another watch to see how it compares, and while I haven't read any of the author's other works I'll certainly give them a look now.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underappreciated work of literature 20 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
If art forces the participant to see reality from an unexpected point of view, or if art takes a generally accepted point of view and sharpens the edges with a light that is so bright that it is almost painful, then "The Hustler" is not just a work of art but a compelling tour de force of astounding power. "The Hustler" is not about pool players, but about how we look at life, how we make the simplest decisions. What is an acceptable performance? In our jobs? With our relationships? What compromises should we make? Must we make? How do we look at ourselves? Why and how do we lie to ourselves?
"The Hustler" is a simple book, well crafted, elegantly written, with memorable characters and compelling situations. This is art at it's best. No pretensions, just a craftsman's use of time honored techniques that reinforce the message without intruding.
Tevis presents life's dilemmas plainly, tells us what is unacceptable, makes us self-satisfied, then like all great artists, presents a little more complex dilemma, then asks us to make the choice again. Except it's not so easy this time...
Reading "The Hustler" should be a rite of passage for any person that feels every decision we make, or don't make, is important. A must read.
On a more personal level, I met Walter Tevis in a room called Hanger's in Pittsburgh in the early 60's. I was about 15, an unusual combination of voracious reader and aspiring 9 ball player. He told me I had a talent, that he loved the game, that he was addicted to it and its characters. He also told me he was a writer. I didn't know who he was at the time and we didn't do anything more than pass a pleasant 10 or 20 minutes. I saw the movie later, loved it, was a little too young and callow to appreciate it as much as I should have. The book has been out of print and difficult to find; I'm embarrassed to say I just read it yesterday for the first time. Let me just say it not only asks questions, but the right questions. I know, I've been trying to answer them for 35 years. Walter wherever you are, (and I believe you died a few years back), thank you.
PS: Walter played pool and wasn't bad, what we'd call a good local player.
PPS: The Minnesota Fats, (real name: Rudolph Wanderone)you all saw on TV wasn't the real Fats. The real Fats wasn't a jerk and a 2 bit hustler with a good agent. But that's another story.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tevis' most acclaimed work; stunning character development. 1 July 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Surely Walter Tevis' strongest novel, "The Hustler" explores the timeless struggle of man against himself, against a backdrop of gray, decaying, post-war billiard rooms and characters on the edge of society's moral perimeter. In a world of illegal billiard gambling, where matchups between road players is a winner-take-all proposition, Tevis shows us that winning can weigh heavy on a man's soul, and is lonelier by far than joining the always-populated ranks of the lost and defeated.

Tevis introduces us to "Fast Eddie" Felson, an extraordinarily gifted pool hustler with a penchant for bourbon - J.T.S. Brown - and for high stakes action. Loosely modeled after billiard master Willie Mosconi, Tevis' "Fast Eddie" takes on "Minnesota Fats" (at the time, a fictional character, who's identity real-lfe pool huster Rudolph Wanderone later assumed) in a series of thousand dollar a game matches. It is a competition that changes both his life and that of the woman he enlists in his struggle against the demons within.

"The Hustler" remains one of only two books - "The Color of Money" being the other - to truly capture the intensity and excitement of professional high-stakes pool without excessive moralizing.

The movie version of The Hustler, released in 1961 and produced by Robert Rossen, starred Paul Newman as Fast Eddie, Piper Laurie as Eddie's femme fatale, and George C. Scott as Eddie's deadly effective but morally bankrupt instructor on the ways of big money pool.
Nominated for several academy awards, the movie, like Fast Eddie, had the misfortune of bad timing and an unwinnable matchup: "West Side Story" swept the awards and relegated Tevis' story to cult classic status.

Sure, rent the movie... but buy the book. The plot differs from the movie in one critical aspect, which I will leave the reader to discover..
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Psychological Study of Winning and Losing 24 Feb 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
More than a story about pool players (although the inside look at the green felt world is fascinating), this is a perceptive study of how we talk ourselves into losing because it's much easier than paying the price to win. Beautifully written with numerous memorable characters, far superior to the movie, this is one novel you'll never forget.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the movie??? 18 Jun 2002
By Rick Jennings - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Excellent book! After reading I learned so much I had to rewatch the movie because I thouught they left so much out; most of the profound ideas are there but very subtle and lost in the film, which I also adore. Tevis is a wonderful writer and this is one book that you can enjoy and learn from both. Each have much to offer so don't choose one... have the best of both; read the book AND see the movie.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic novel about winning and losing 4 May 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I have a BA in English literature and am an avid pool player, and I enjoyed The Hustler on both levels. Tevis' well written treatment of winning and losing as it happens on the green cloth and in the gray matter is realistic and detailed. The book goes into more detail about the psychology of competition than the movie does and differs from the movie at a few points in the plot. I thought the book was better than the movie, but I recommend them both.
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