on June 14, 2005
FEVER PITCH is basically a tribute to English football. Hornby (as a real-life Arsenal fan) has a unique talent here in weaving a story out of autobiographical moments with a slight narrative where the glory and obsessive nature of football is eeked out on every page. Within this you can quickly deduce that the thing always and forever on a football fan's mind is HIS fixture list and everything else (friends, family, love and moments) is second best. Each year, each month, each season of the narrator's life can be calculated and described by footballing moments - such is the craze, the frenzy, the desperation for his team and the beautiful game.
For those who may feel too 'footballed-out' by this review -you can always try the film version. This little ditty, starring the wonderful Colin Firth, is a far more sensitive football-account than the book. Firth plays a football-crazed yet vulnerable man who even seems troubled by his obsession.The film also mingles in an aspect of love (something that is not heavily referenced in the book) and loss where a girlfriend becomes an outsider on match day - thus appealing to women probably the world over who ultimately always stand on the periphery of the game.
I would recommend the book to anybody. Although completely devoted to football it's still a great account and shows some great (autobiographical) work by Hornby. He did the same for music in HIGH FIDELITY -- read that one as well rather than see the film. In addition to FEVER PITCH, I need to mention another little book called THE LOSERS' CLUB: COMPLETE RESTORED EDITION by Richard Perez (which bears more than a passing resemblance to HIGH FIDELITY -- spontaneity and passion (not to mention HUMOR) count for a lot and these books have it spades.
on February 15, 2004
Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby is one of the best football books around. But it is about much more than football, it gives a rare glimpse into the psyche of the British football fan. In his book, football is a metaphor for all aspects of life, romance, family, and career. Hornby¡¦s amusing narratives perfectly encapsulate the unique relationship a football fan has with their favorite team. Even as a Manchester United fan I find it fascinating to read about his obsession with and dedication to Arsenal.
At the most superficial level, this book provides a very detail account of Arsenal from the late 60s through the beginning of the 90s, and the increasingly violent behavior by football fans during the late 70s and early 80s, and the negative impact it had on his feelings for the games.
Hornby describes vividly how his life was related to Arsenal's achievements. When Arsenal was doing good, Hornby was doing good. When Arsenal was having an off-season, Hornby fell into depression. It is interesting to observe the development of Hornby's obsession, because it can happen to anyone. With the backdrop of his often witty accounts of Arsenal games, Hornby talks about how his life evolves with his family, his girlfriend, and his students. Football is like a common world language, and Hornby uses it to interact with his students. And watching football with his father was one the highlights of his childhood.
Every game has an analogy in life for the football fan. For Hornby, a tight game ending in defeat is a painful reminder of a break with his girlfriend.
While this obsession with football is almost innate, sometimes Hornby felt immature, especially when he was unable to control his overwhelming passion for the game in front of his students.
In humorous pros Hornby highlights how football and life come together on the pitch and is definitely worthy of reading.
on December 14, 2003
This is a cool book, and a very good book, but a tiny little "je ne sais quoi" keeps me from giving it that last and final fifth star.
To summarize the book superficially in a sentence, it's an autobiographical retelling, in a very witty first-person voice, of the author's (London journalist Nick Hornby) lifelong love of soccer and his passion for the English pro soccer team Arsenal (which plays in London). Thrown in are side stories about his boyhood, his relationship with his parents, and his posse of friends, love interests, and workmates who either do or don't share his love of the sport.
One problem for North Americans is that this is a truly English book, in that it contains tons of references to little villages in England, little UK customs, judgments and descriptions of London neighborhoods, etc., that left me feeling like a Yankee hick who'd never left the trailer park. Indeed, that is my problem and not the author's, but North Americans who don't know English culture well will feel lost at times.
Another problem is that the book, like the TV show "Seinfeld," isn't really about anything. Sure, there's a lot of chatter about soccer, but not in any sort of methodical or educative way. It's basically a willfully disorganized diary about 20 years in the life of a clever, witty Englishman (from about age 10 to about age 30) who allows soccer to dominate his worldview and, alas, his whole life. It comes down to the amusing musings of a 30-something Londoner, which makes the book fascinating but not monumental.
The obsession with soccer is the strength and the weakness of the work. If you want to learn about English pro soccer, you will be disappointed. If you want to learn first-hand, from a very imaginative and clever soul, about what it was like for one particular person to grow up soccer-mad in southeastern England the 1970's and 1980's and how it impacted the rest of his life, then this is the book for you.
I'm a big fan of Nick Hornby, and a better book of his, and a better "starter book" for him, is "High Fidelity."
on October 27, 2003
"Fever pitch" is Hornby's first well-known book, a precedent to "High fidelity" and "About a boy". Hornby is one of the two british people that has brought a new meaning to pop-culture; the other is Helen Fielding. Hornby's characters are simple, common people that live unusual situations and relationships along his common lives. In this case, Hornby's character is himself, and the book is about his relationship with London soccer team Arsenal.
To me this book was fun to read because, like Hornby - although in a much, much smaller degree - I am a soccer fanatic, and, like him, my favourite team - Corinthians Paulista - is also one of the most popular and inconstant teams in my country. Hornby writes his book describing how his life was related to Arsenal's achievements. When Arsenal was doing good, Hornby was doing good. When Arsenal was struggling, Hornby was in depression. Of course, there's much more to it than just that, but it is interesting to observe the development of Hornby's obsession, because it can happen to anyone, at any time.
The problem with "Fever pitch" is that, if the reader doesn't like or doesn't know soccer there will be a lot of skipped paragraphs, and maybe the book will be put aside before the end. Even if the reader can see this story as a metaphor, soccer is ever-present and cannot be dissociated from Hornby's life. I liked it and understood it because soccer IS a very present thing in my life. Maybe if it was about cricket, I would not have liked it.
on July 11, 2003
Sports fan? You'll like this book.
Soccer fan? You'll really live this book.
English soccer fan? You'll love this book.
Arsenal fan? This will be one of your favorite books ever.
I am all of the above. But I am also a fan of good writing. Nick Hornby has proven (with books such as "High Fidelity " and "About a Boy") that he's an excellent writer. In tackling (pun intended) the sport and team he is obsessed with, Hornby is being faithful to the notion that writer's should deal with topics familiar to them.
"Fever Pitch" is a love story. It is about one person's unconditional love for a sports team. There have been other such books before, but none better. Hornby explores the intersecting of love of team (and living and dying with their results) with the annoying business of the "rest of life." Any sport fan will be able not to just relate to the book, but seem themselves in it. Those familiar with English football (soccer to the heathen) will identify all the more.
Sports fans should read this book for a glimpse at how others see us.
on July 2, 2003
When I saw this book, I thought that Nick Hornby will tell us about his experiences at the stadium, for example:
The first time that I went to a stadium to see the San Diego Chargers (I live in Mexico but my brother lives there). My brother asked me if I want to go to the game and I told him that yes, so the next day he didn't offer me nothing for breakfast, I didn't comment anything because I thought that we will eat some hot dogs at the stadium, then I saw him to take some beers, sodas, meat and everything to do a barbecue so I asked him if we are going to a barbecue after the game, he just smiled.
When we get to the parking lot at the stadium I just didn't believe my eyes, everybody was having a barbecue I just started to laugh and laugh because here in Mexico you will never do that. (I don't remember who won that game nor the others games that I will tell you in this review).
The second time I went to see the Chicago Bears with a friend, I knew that in the stadium they only sell two beers per person per time so in the line for the beers I told my friend:
"Buy two beers.
"No, I don't like so much beer, I only want one.
"I didn't asked you what do you like, I told you what to do!
At the end of the second quarter I asked him for my beer, and he told me that he already drank HIS second beer.
The third and last story is when I went to see the Houston Oilers at the Astrodome. Behind me was a group of ten or twelve persons, in that stadium were glasses that contain three beers, so they make a competition to see who drinks all the beer faster, so the first started and he drank almost all the beer but part of it went directly to his pants, everybody were laughing, so when the second started, the first make him laugh and happened almost the same as the first one, to make the story short, at the end, the person who won the competition was the one who has more wet his pants.
Now, in this book the writer just wrote all the results of his favorite team of Soccer in England since 1968, that shows us one of two thinks:
He has an excellent memory or he has a sports book to write them down, I think that nobody will check if those results are true or not, nobody cares even if you leave in London.
If the book would say his stories at the stadium, it doesn't matter which sport is because you are not interested in the sport, you are interested in the people who goes to see that specific sport. If I went to a stadium about 10 times in my life (to see football) and I have this and others stories, I am sure that a person who goes to the stadium to each game of his favorite team must have many stories like this to write them, some of them funny and some sad, but that will keep you interested in the book.
on January 12, 2003
I had heard a lot about Hornby's books, and quite few guys I know had recommended them as hilariously funny. "Fever Pitch" was recommended as the absolute best one, so I thought I'd better read it.
The book is about Arsenal, Hornby, and what it means to be a soccer (football) fan (not a hooligan, just severely addicted to soccer). And oh my God! Hornby qualifies for the die-hard group by far! We are talking about *serious* addiction to soccer!! Or what do you say to scheduling your whole life (career & work / partner / social etc) around the possibility of a re-play of a game? Or saying "no" to weddings because it collides with an Arsenal match? Someone at work told me that this book would be insightful to understanding English men / soccer fans.. If that is true - I'll stay clear!
Since I am not English, I probably missed a few (good?) jokes due to my obvious lack of native soccer lingo. But even so, there was plenty for me to enjoy. And the book certainly made me laugh out loud, several times. "Fever Pitch" was a fast and easy read and I read this book in a few sittings. It was a very, very, funny and highly entertaining book.
on December 27, 2002
As an American who knows just a bit about FA football I had no problem diving right into the source of this fine work.
It's about the pain and struggle of being a professional sports fan.
Being a Cleveland sports fan I felt right at home with all of this, yet strangley detached.
Heck he can talk all he wants about having to deal with the frustrations of Arsenal - which have won quite a fair share of Cups throughout his musings - but I sit here as a sports fan near Cleveland, OH without any memories of winning any chanpionships. Last title was in the 60s by the Browns - pre Super Bowl.
That's pain Mr. Hornby.
The more I read the more I connected Hornby with that of an English version of a New York Yankee or Dodgers fan. Always, always crying poor mouth when there are clearly worse off franchises in the world.
Regardless, Mr. Hornby explains it all so well. But, if you really want to know how losing affects a soul check out Terry Pluto's writings on the Cleveland Indians. That's sad stuff.
on December 11, 2002
Don't get me wrong, I love Hornby's writing and have since reading the short story that eventually became the movie 'About A Boy.' Yet, I've tried unsuccessfully now two times to get through this self-described autobiographical journal of an adolescent soccer football fan. I've really, really wanted to love this book, last month when I put it down only 2/3's through and three years ago when I put it down 1/2 the way through but I just can't.
I can't because: 1) A sports fanatic doesn't need to be told what being a sports fanatic is like and a non-sports fanatic wouldn't get it even if he could give a damnation. There is a fellow named Roger Angell who writes about baseball who can really make a non-fan interested in the game, so try him if you want to learn about sport. 2) This book really isn't at all about rooting for the home team, or even about the sport of soccer football. This is a book by and about a rather sensitive boy being brought up in 'metroland' by a divorced couple who finds that while he really cannot cope with his parents' separation he must because they are, afterall, separated. 3) Nick Hornby, while being an extraordinary talent when it comes to writing stories, is really not interesting as either a soccer football fan or a child.
If you really want to read about soccer football fandom find the effort by Salman Rushdie who conveys everything that Horny attempts in this book, only succeeds. Having said that, you are probably going to read this book anyway because you are, like I am, fond of Hornby's other books. I've tried to warn you.
on December 4, 2002
Have you ever had the shiver, cold sweat runnig down your back? A game 7 two out two on full count in the bottom of the tenth inning, a Super Bowl field goal attempt with only 3 seconds on the clock when the game is tied, the deciding free throw in overtime in the final game of the season?
Whoever is interested in sports remembers these moments most vividly and narrates with lifeblood from these - as they most often seem to us - history changing incidents. No matter which sport, no matter which team you cheer for, it is engraved in your heart as soccer is engraved in Nick Hornby's heart. He writes about Arsenal, a soccer team and much more than a soccer team. Arsenal becomes his wife, Arsenal supporters become his friends and Highbury Park becomes his second, actually his first home.
This autobiographical masterpiece does not only describe the passion, the obsession of soccer fans - and basically all sport fans - share and what fandom gives to them, it also allows soccer to become a metaphore of life. Never before has anyone described these feelings sports fans all over the world share so well.
This book cheers you up, reminds you of the worst losses you ever suffered, it gives you the impression that you are not alone and always provides you with most detailed information about soccer and sports as well as a philosophy and world view all sports fans have had in their subconscience as long as they can think of their first game winner.
A sports bible should contain this book and in what ever situation you are in life - the only constant is sports - you will find a psalm in it that will help you.