Playing off the Rail:: A Pool Hustler's Journey

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9780679423744: Playing off the Rail:: A Pool Hustler's Journey

Award-winning author David McCumber reveals the unknown world of the pool hustler as he travels across the country with one of America's top players, Tony Annigoni. From elegant snookers clubs to high-pressure tournaments to chancy dives, this wise-cracking and occasionally hair-raising road trip explores a distinctive American subculture.

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About the Author:

David McCumber is an award-winning journalist, a former assistant managing editor at the San Francisco Examiner, and the founding editor and publisher of Big Sky Journal. He has worked for more than twenty years as a writer and editor at newspapers and magazines across the American West. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

From Booklist:

McCumber takes readers on a North American odyssey into the world of pool hustlers, gamblers, dreamers, and losers--and even a few winners, too. A lifelong passion for pool and pool halls led the award-winning journalist to dream of going on the road, la Walter Tevis' fictional Hustler. Though a decent recreational player, McCumber knew he didn't have the talent for such an undertaking so he decided on the next-best thing: he became the stakehorse for Tony Annigoni, a San Francisco pool hall owner who had hovered for years on the fringes of the game's top players. A stakehorse supplies the money for a hustle: he gets half the winnings but absorbs all the losses and the expenses. Though the "road" isn't as long or populated as it once was, the pair seldom lacked opposition, and McCumber describes it all with relish--the old-fashioned, smoke-filled pool halls, dripping ambience, and, of course, the people, both the players and the railbirds. These are characters with names like Bucktooth and Waterdog; they smell the hustle but play anyway, addicted to the action and the life. This is not Blue Highways or Zen and the Art of Billiard Maintenance; there are no life lessons to be learned except that in today's circumscribed, success-oriented, downsizing world, it's comforting to know that the road is always there and the action never ends. Wes Lukowsky

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