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Tom Pitts received his education on the streets of San Francisco. He remains there, working, writing, and trying to survive. He is the author of HUSTLE, Piggyback, and Knuckleball. Find links to more of his work at: TomPittsAuthor.com
If you read the description provided by the publisher, it all sounds wonderfully seedy, of course. Two young men, Donny and Rich, drug addicts, living and working in the notorious Tenderloin section of downtown San Francisco. They aren't gay, but being young and male and willing to do almost anything -- hustling gay men is how they keep the cash coming so they can stay high and stave off the horrible sickness of withdrawal as long as possible. And yes, Hustle will get a lot of attention for the extreme creepiness of its characters, their activities, and the various settings. That's great, of course, because hopefully that'll get people curious and cause them to read, buy, and talk about the book, and Mr. Pitts will make a lot of money and Hollywood will buy the rights and make a really cool movie. But, none of that is why Hustle is, in my opinion, such a good book, such an absolutely fun read. The reason why Hustle is so good is this: Pitts is a wonderful storyteller. Hustle is a great story, told very well. It's like Tom Pitts created and then perfectly painted about a dozen characters who, if thrown into just the right situations (the ones in this book), naturally and inevitable do dramatic, suspenseful things. Constantly. Like Piggyback, Pitts' novella published last year, the book is never dull, something is always happening, the stakes are always high and getting higher, and it all comes together at the end -- just right. See what I mean? Yes, maybe, the book might be considered groundbreaking due to the subject and setting, but if the story didn't rock like it does it wouldn't break anything, it would never get published and you would never get a chance to read it and have the time of your life.
You are not going to find many books like this. This one isn't demo tested; there are no considerations for softening elements to make more appealing for mainstream consumption. The result is bare bones, no hold's barred, in-your-face reportage from the front lines of the streets. It's got the grittiness of a junkie memoir, and the fast, unapologetic pace of a crime novel, creating a unique hybrid. What Pitts does so well is present his unsavory characters without excuses. These are real people. People you might never want to meet. But they exist nonetheless, and the author takes us behind the scenes to show us how exactly. And it ain't pretty. Donny, Rich, Bear, Gabriel, these are hardly upstanding citizens. But their tragic lots and desire for a better life render them all too human. Best of all, none of this forsakes the plot, which zips along like Leonard or a Tarantino flick. Just how I like my books: dark and dirty, with a glimmer of redemption.
Finally, yes finally, we have a good, raw, down and dirty, book to add to the bookshelves. There were moments when I gripped the book and yelled, "Hell yes", to whoever was around me at the time. This book is not a censored read. You have to be able to want to experience the street life on the seedy side of San Francisco. Tom Pitts does not hold back. You get the whole shibang right there in that 318 pages. God, I loved it!
Donny and Rich are street hustlers. They spend their days shooting Heroin and their nights turning tricks to get money for Heroin. Rich comes up with a plan on how they can extort money from one of his johns named Gabriel. Gabriel is a wealthy, criminal lawyer who likes his sex a little kinky. Really, very kinky. After setting the plan into motion by filming Gabriel in the act, Rich and Donny head over to Gabriel's mansion to surprise him with the video. They are the ones surprised when confronted by a psychopath that had the idea first. Gabriel is in the middle of a storm that keeps sucking him deeper into trouble. His only hope is his good friend, Bear. Bear is a big biker dude with a bigger heart. When he finds out that Gabriel is in trouble, he sets out to rescue him.
These characters jump off the pages and pull you into their lives. The story wraps around you and you cannot quit reading it. Tom Pitts knows how to tell a story and he can hold your attention from page one. I absolutely loved it. I will warn readers that Tom does not whitewash life on the streets. It is raw and explicit. There is drug usage, blood, and sex. There are scenes that include men having sex, which are explicit and kinky. I am only warning people that are used to tame books. But, having said this, Tom Pitts includes what needs to be included to tell a good story. Every scene is necessary to build up to the spectacular climax of this novel. Really, I say, suck it up and jump in and take a walk on the dark side. You will NOT regret it.
"Tom Pitts was raised on the streets of San Francisco."-From the author's bio. And it shows here, on the heroin-laced and blood-strewn pages, in the tightly crafted and brutal story of two heroin junkies living a life of male prostitution to skate by; every job a danger, every client their possible end. One gets the idea to blackmail one of their more prominent customers and expose him of his sin to the world, and true to noir, their plan goes downhill drastically. Pitts is one of those authors that comes along once in a lifetime. He is as gifted with story as he is with words, but always shies away from being flashy about it and knows damn well that story comes first, especially in a book like this.This novel is highly recommended to anyone looking for high-octane criminal noir, and even for the possible San Francisco tourists still thinking the city is all Golden Gate and hippie chicks. The author isn't afraid to show how unforgiving the world can be, and we're all the better for it.