Walter Tevis (1928-1984)

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Walter Tevis (February 28, 1928 – August 8, 1984) was an American novelist and short story writer.

He is the author of six novels and one short story collection. Three of his novels have been made into films: The Hustler, The Color of Money and The Man Who Fell to Earth.

Walter Tevis taught English literature and creative writing at Ohio University from 1965 to 1978, where he was a university professor.

He spent his last years in New York as a full-time writer.

Walter Tevis died of lung cancer in 1984.

Works:

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The Hustler 1959 (novel)

The Hustler tells the story of a young pool hustler, Edward “Fast Eddie” Felson, who challenges the legendary Minnesota Fats. After losing to Fats, Eddie meets Bert Gordon, who teaches him about winning, or more particularly about losing. Tautly written, The Hustler is a treatise on how a loser is beaten by himself, not by his opponent; and how he can learn to win, if he can look deeply enough into himself.

The Hustler was adapted into a 1961 film, starring Paul Newman as Fast Eddie. The film was a critical and commercial success. It remains widely regarded as a classic.

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The Man Who Fell to Earth 1963 (novel) 

The Man Who Fell to Earth is about an extraterrestrial that lands on Earth seeking a way to ferry his people to Earth from his home planet, which is suffering from a severe drought.

The Man Who Fell to Earth was made into a 1976 film, starring David Bowie as the extraterrestrial, Thomas Jerome Newton. It was directed by Nicolas Roeg.

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Mockingbird 1980 (novel)

Mockingbird opens with the failed suicide attempt of Spofforth, the dean of New York University, who is an android who has lived for centuries, yet yearns to die. Spofforth then brings a teacher, Paul Bentley, to New York. Bentley has taught himself to read after a Rosetta Stone–like discovery of a film with words matching those in a children’s primer. Bentley says he could teach others to read, but Spofforth instead gives him a job of decoding the written titles in ancient silent films. At a zoo, Bentley meets Mary Lou and explains the concept of reading to her. They embark on a path toward literacy. Spofforth responds by sending Bentley to prison for the crime of reading, and takes Mary Lou as an unwilling housemate. The novel then follows Bentley’s journey of discovery after his escape from prison…

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Far from Home 1981 (short stories)

Far from Home is a collection of short stories, written between 1955 and 1984 by Walter Tevis. Tevis wrote more than two dozen short stories for a variety of magazines. “The Big Hustle”, his pool hall story was published in Collier’s on August 5, 1955, and was illustrated by Denver Gillen. Over the next twenty years, Tevis published short stories in The American Magazine, Bluebook, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Galaxy Science Fiction, Playboy, Redbook and The Saturday Evening Post. These stories were collected together and published as the short story collection Far From Home in 1981.

The Big Bounce (first published in Galaxy, February, 1958) is one of the stories from the collection:

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The Steps of the Sun 1983 (novel)

 

The Steps of the Sun is set in the year 2063. China’s world dominance is growing, and America is slipping into impotence. All new sources of energy have been depleted or declared unsafe, and a new Ice Age has begun. Ben Belson searches for a new energy resource.

 

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The Queen’s Gambit 1983 (novel)

The Queen’s Gambit traces chess prodigy Beth Harmon’s life from her childhood in an orphanage through her struggles with tranquilizer and alcohol addiction to her triumphant rise through the Grandmaster ranks.

Eight-year-old orphan Beth Harmon is quiet, sullen, and by all appearances unremarkable—until she plays her first game of chess. Her senses grow sharper, her thinking clearer, and for the first time in her life she feels herself fully in control. By the age of sixteen, she’s competing for the U.S. Open championship. But as she hones her skills on the professional circuit, the stakes get higher, her isolation grows more frightening, and the thought of escape becomes all the more tempting…

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The Color of Money 1984 (novel)

The Color of Money is a sequel to Tevis’ first novel, The Hustler (1959). The novel is set twenty years after The Hustler. Fast Eddie now runs a pool hall of his own. After seeing a lookalike of Minnesota Fats on the television, he decides to go in search of the real one, whom he finds in the Florida Keys. Eddie persuades Fats to go on a national tour. He meets Arabella, an English woman, who moves in with him. The finale is set at Lake Tahoe, where Eddie manages to beat a number of younger players.

The novel was adapted into a 1986 film directed by Martin Scorsese. The film differs greatly from the novel in terms of plot, and does not feature the Minnesota Fats character.

 

Information on Walter Tevis and his works is available at:

http://www.waltertevis.com/

 

Walter Tevis’ novels and short stories are available at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=walter+tevis

 

 

Walter Tevis (1928-1984)

Copyright © R J Dent (2016)

 

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