As George Plimpton once suggested, when it comes to writing about sports, the smaller the ball the better the writing. That would explain why there's so much good writing about golf and baseball, so little about football and basketball. And since pool and billiard balls fall somewhere in size between golf balls and base- balls, it only follows that writing about cue games is terrific. Robert Byrne provides ample confirmation of Plimpton's theory in this first-ever collection of short stories about pool, billiards, and snooker. From Leo Tolstoy to Andrew Vachss, writers have been attracted to "the green island of high serious- ness" because of the colorful characters, the skill of the players, the mystique of sharks and gamblers, and the addictive nature of the game. Short story writers have made especially good use of the material, approaching it-like a pool table-from every angle: the ego clashes, the posturing, the desperate scams, the joy of being "hot." With its drama, humor, and constant surprises (including a science fiction selection), this book will delight fans of lively writing, especially those who have tried to bank the eight in the side.