Billiards : Hustlers & Heroes, Legends & Lies and The Search for Higher Truth on the Green Felt by John Grissim
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1979. Hardcover. 255 pages ; pictorial illustrations ; 25 cm. $12.50 dust jacket. Pages are unmarked and binding is firm.
It has long been said that proficiency at pool is the sign of a misspent youth, yet despite (or because of) its disreputable aura, the game of pool—or pocket billiards, in more elegant terminology—has retained its appeal throughout centuries. Today in certain circles, the names of Willie Mos-coni, Luther "Wimpy" Lassiter, "Oil Can" Larry Lisciotti and the notorious Minnesota Fats are the stuff of legend, and the game they play, in its various manifestations—straight pool, eight-ball, nine-ball one-pocket, continues to fascinate. Grissim has captured in BILLIARDS the allure and glamor of this peculiar form of recreation. He records the controversial and checkered history of a game that began with kings, settled down among society's colorful dregs, and, most recently, has made striking inroads among the middle classes. Still, the image remains of the smokefilled poolhall, filled with a shuffling, murmuring clientele watching the purposeful maneuvers of deft-fingered players around a brightly lit green table-top. John Grissim tells of the great matches, of the ins and outs of famous hustlers, of poolhall parlance and slang, of superstars and money players, of the exalted zen-like trance when you know your shots can't miss. Filled with anecdotes and illustrations of famous players, ornate poolhalls and diverse paraphernalia; studded with diagrammed shots and positions of the experts; colored with the sincerity of fanaticism and the leavening of the true pool-playing cynic, BILLIARDS is a book for anyone who has ever run a rack, or dreamt of doing it.
John Grissim, journalist, author, and a pretty fair cue-handler, has contributed articles to Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Sports Illustrated. He lives in Northern California.
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