PLAYING OFF THE RAIL: A Pool Hustler's Journey by David McCumber

PLAYING OFF THE RAIL: A Pool Hustler's Journey

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KIRKUS REVIEW

McCumber (X-Rated: The Mitchell Brothers, 1992) hits the road with professional pool player Tony Annigoni, determined to make a killing in the sometimes twilight world of pool hustlers. McCumber found himself with a surplus of cash and time, and few responsibilities after completing his last book. A pool devotee, he decided to live out a lifelong dream to go on the road, from pool hall to pool hall. Needless to say, he was smart enough to know that if he played for himself, he would very quickly be broke, so he hooked up with Annigoni, a world-class player and ""Renaissance hustler,"" a man of wit and erudition who also plays a mean game of nine-ball. Starting at the Q Club, of which Annigoni was part owner, the two traveled back and forth across North America looking for action, sometimes joined by Tony's mentor, Richard Court, better known as Bucktooth. The result is a delightful and affectionate look at one of America's seedier subcultures, currently experiencing a new boom and a yuppified image. McCumber is a good explainer, and as a result, you needn't have grown up around a pool hall to follow the action. He is also amusingly self-effacing where his own skills are concerned and mordant in his assessment of a society that could produce the extensive urban detritus that he and Annigoni are confronted with in such garden spots as Akron, Ohio, and Bellflower, Calif. And readers will learn a wide variety of useful lessons, including why pool balls are a better weapon than a cue stick in a brawl. You have to love a book whose characters include Cornbread Red, Filipino Gene, and Nine-Ball Paul. It gets a little long toward the end, but on the whole, this is a refreshing and very funny look at the world of pool, billiards, and snooker.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0380729237
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Random