This book is soooo good.
In 'The Hustler', Walter Tevis introduces you to 'Fast' Eddie Felson, a small time pool shark (though Eddie himself dislikes the term) and gifted pool player. And he really thinks he's all that and a bag of chips, and probably a couple other bags of chips.
But I'll be damned if you don't learn to love him, even though he's kind of an asshole. But you know, he's an honest asshole that never pretends to be anything else. And there's some redemption in him as well. He's a complex machine of flaws and foibles and strengths and blessings, and there's some glory in him.
Tevis can really get into a character's head, so much so that you're drawn into their world and, for those brief magical moments, believe they're real. The emotional moments towards the end of the book are like running the table in billiards, just one fantastic shot after another.
For a slender volume, this novel punches way above its weight.