Tevis' novel is fast paced, easy to read, but realistic and gritty. His characters are complicated and full of conflicting emotions. The pool scenes are particularly tense but even if you don't know anything about pool (as I don't!) Tevis makes them entertaining. His style of writing is reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway and blends world weariness with questioning, often poetic statements.
"there seemed to be no longer a range of sensitivity to his vision. He felt he could see in the dark or could stare at the sun-the brightest sun at full noon-and stare it out of the sky" p. 45
“He liked brains, and he admired people who read books. He had read a few himself” p. 64
“Then, suddenly, she turned and began limping back, slowly. For a moment he felt as if he could not breathe” p. 68
The casting of the film was also excellent-Paul Newman is perfect as Eddie portraying the right mixture of arrogance, confusion, talent and like-ability. Piper Laurie is also well cast as Sarah, world-weary and vulnerable. Shot in back and white the film perfectly sets the scene of the novel, the seedy pool rooms, the bus stop, the dark streets and the variety of characters Eddie encounters along the way.
"The cigarette tasted like tar…’What did you give me, ‘ he said, ‘marijuana?’
She smiled the faint smile again. ‘They’re French.’
She seemed to think a moment. ‘I don’t know,’ she said, ‘to impress my friends, probably.’
It was a peculiar answer, but sufficient” p. 54
The Hustler is a fascinating novel, a look at mans ability to win and lose and how their natural talent and arrogance create these outcomes. Tevis creates memorable characters and atmospheric settings, it is a novel well worth reading, and one that I think should be talked about more often.