SWEET: An Eight-Ball Odyssey

SWEET: An Eight-Ball Odyssey

"This take on the world of organized pool couldn't be more vivid. You may learn one or two pool tricks reading Sweet, but even better, you'll get to know Heather Byer. Heather's the book, and a lot more fun than shooting pool."
— Elmore Leonard, author of The Hot Kid and Get Shorty

When Heather Byer moved to New York from the Midwest in the early 1990s, she was like thousands of newcomers before her: wholesome, overeducated, ready to jump head-first into the ruthless, exciting world of literature or film. She eventually built a successful career as a movie executive, only to realize that something was missing from her life. She was stuck — stuck in a lifestyle of fancy lunches and high-powered temper tantrums, of working too hard for too little personal fulfillment.

But instead of turning to therapy or yoga to relieve her angst, Byer found herself drawn to the dark and seductive world of pool.

In Sweet, Byer recounts her first fumbling attempts to learn a game that beckoned to her for years. She describes the hypnotic pull that surrounds the sport of pool: the netherworld of bars that serve as dens for substance abuse; the troubled players who lose themselves in the game; the constant quest for the win. As her game improves, she finds her persona changing, becoming less verbal and analytical and more intuitive and physical as she meets a series of people who leave lasting impressions — a lanky, country-boy pool instructor; a good-hearted lawyer with a drinking problem; a strange South American bank-shot specialist; a hot-tempered woman with a nose-ring and an endless supply of sex appeal; mentors and hustlers; friends and lovers. As she moves through this beguiling, sometimes treacherous subculture, Byer vividly describes her progress and mishaps on the tables. Ultimately, the humiliating losses and exhilarating wins — both in the pool bars and her personal life — alter how she thinks of the game and herself.

Sweet is both an unexpected memoir and a fascinating glimpse into a world few people know and even fewer understand.