Recoiling from her work with bad-mannered movie execs, our spunky heroine becomes a player herself—a pool player. Five years leaning over the green felt in plebeian poolrooms empowered her mightily.
Not long out of the hinterlands, Byer impulsively dropped into a dim NYC pool bar called Chelsea Billiards and found a new life. Quickly hooked, she took lessons in the fine points of an ancient game played on a field seven feet long and half as wide. In addition to the rules of pool and the story of billiards (which she passes on succinctly to the reader), she learned much about a new breed of people. Progressing nicely, she joined a competitive amateur team. She invested in her own cue stick ($100) and case ($25); she grew passionate about the proper break of a rackful of balls. Pungent character sketches and lucid accounts of various games constitute Byer’s narrative meat, seasoned with a bit of romance and the customary girl-pal. She had entanglements and breakups with pool guys while she changed jobs and apartments. She had a minor adventure in a Mexican poolroom, found a new team based in another New York venue and recovered from a slump. It was all about the manners and mores of obsessive players, about the teasing and fellowship of comrades at the tables and about her rapport with her cue stick. “There’s an empowering women’s magazine article in there somewhere, I have no doubt,” she thought after a coworker complimented her on a new glow of confidence.
Lightly entertaining and occasionally illuminating.