From Publishers Weekly
This new release from Sports Illustrated
writer Wertheim (Venus Envy
), who expertly reports a true life story reminiscent of The Hustler
and The Color of Money
, details the exploits of Danny Kid Delicious Basavich, who, after dropping out of high school in the 1990s, went from being a suicidal, overweight teen to a legendary pool player. Wertheim has created a new version of the American dream, one where the predictable life of white picket fences and green lawns is replaced by the adventures brought by the spin of a cue ball and wads of greenbacks continually changing hands. At the heart of the book is the engrossing tale of two distinct relationships. The first is about Kid's two selves—the personable, pool-playing wiz and the bedridden, depressed bundle of nerves. The other story line follows the ruckus raised by the pool-playing exploits of the fat and friendly Kid and his fit and feisty partner, Bristol Bob. Adding to the book's appeal is Wertheim's eloquent and vivid prose that so perfectly captures the squalid, sepia-toned environs of America's billiard halls that it's easy to forget that the events in this book reflect recent history and not pool's roaring 1920s heyday . (Oct.)
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If professional pool players are an endangered species, pool hustlers would seem altogether extinct. But like a field researcher reporting a passenger pigeon in New Jersey, Wertheim presents Danny Basavich, aka Kid Delicious, as proof that hustlers walk among us yet. He couldn't have asked for a better subject. Like pool's most famous big man, Delicious has a larger-than-life personality and an ability to make losers love him. But he also has a dark side, "full-moon phases" that sometimes lay him low for months. Wertheim records Delicious' journey from high-school loser to high-stakes winner, keeping the pacing brisk as the Kid learns the ropes on the road, in bed, and at the bank. Eventually, with his face and belly too well known to prospective marks, Delicious tries to make the transition to professional pool, which, paradoxically, is far less lucrative. Pool insiders often lack the literary chops to sell their stories to the general public; Wertheim, a professional sportswriter (Transition Game, 2005), has an eye for detail and can turn a phraseand he's clearly fascinated by the game. You will be, too. Graff, Keir