Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fever Pitch

Fever Pitch Review

It seemed as though this book was referenced just about everywhere this summer during the World Cup (at least by the more literate columnists), and a long while back, I had loved High Fidelity. I thought it might be worth a read.

And goodness was it. It's a little difficult to explain why. The many essays and reflections within the book are largely uncategorized. These are just things that happened, things Hornby has thought and experienced in his years as an Arsenal fan, assembled in a thematically random order. If you read it, you won't close the book thinking that there was a point to it.

And yet, I enjoyed every minute of the book. I am a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, despite growing up in Texas, simply because I watched a game one day on WGN when the Cubs were on instead of Rescue Rangers, and my experience at each point in Fever Pitch was, "Yep, that's what it's like." Fever Pitch describes the joy, the anger, the irrationality, the pity, the confidence, the awe, the sense of belonging, the despair (etc.) that devotion to a sports team inspires. He captures it all, and it's funny and sad and, most of all, truthful.

Fever Pitch Feature

  • ISBN13: 9781573226882
  • Condition: New
  • Notes: BUY WITH CONFIDENCE, Over one million books sold! 98% Positive feedback. Compare our books, prices and service to the competition. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed

Fever Pitch Overview

This is a book about identity, belonging, obsession; about afternoons in the driving rain and bitter cold and glorious, unforgettable goals; getting your head read in Hampstead and punched at Highbury; the dazzling skills of the gods of football and leaving your girlfriend lying fainted on the terraces because Arsenal are about to score. It's about the moments of ecstasy in one man's life. And his pain. And it's about the only true question there is: Which comes first, Football or Life?

Fever Pitch Specifications

In the States, Nick Hornby is best know as the author of High Fidelity and About a Boy, two wickedly funny novels about being thirtysomething and going nowhere fast. In Britain he is revered for his status as a fanatical football writer (sorry, fanatical soccer writer), owing to Fever Pitch--which is both an autobiography and a footballing Bible rolled into one. Hornby pinpoints 1968 as his formative year--the year he turned 11, the year his parents separated, and the year his father first took him to watch Arsenal play. The author quickly moved "way beyond fandom" into an extreme obsession that has dominated his life, loves, and relationships. His father had initially hoped that Saturday afternoon matches would draw the two closer together, but instead Hornby became completely besotted with the game at the expense of any conversation: "Football may have provided us with a new medium through which we could communicate, but that was not to say that we used it, or what we chose to say was necessarily positive." Girlfriends also played second fiddle to one ball and 11 men. He fantasizes that even if a girlfriend "went into labor at an impossible moment" he would not be able to help out until after the final whistle.

Fever Pitch is not a typical memoir--there are no chapters, just a series of match reports falling into three time frames (childhood, young adulthood, manhood). While watching the May 2, 1972, Reading v. Arsenal match, it became embarrassingly obvious to the then 15-year-old that his white, suburban, middle-class roots made him a wimp with no sense of identity: "Yorkshire men, Lancastrians, Scots, the Irish, blacks, the rich, the poor, even Americans and Australians have something they can sit in pubs and bars and weep about." But a boy from Maidenhead could only dream of coming from a place with "its own tube station and West Indian community and terrible, insoluble social problems."

Fever Pitch reveals the very special intricacies of British football, which readers new to the game will find astonishing, and which Hornby presents with remarkable humor and honesty--the "unique" chants sung at matches, the cold rain-soaked terraces, giant cans of warm beer, the trains known as football specials carrying fans to and from matches in prisonlike conditions, bottles smashing on the tracks, thousands of policemen waiting in anticipation for the cargo of hooligans. The sport and one team in particular have crept into every aspect of Hornby's life--making him see the world through Arsenal-tinted spectacles. --Naomi Gesinger

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