Fever Pitch Paperback – Apr 12 2005
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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
From Publishers Weekly
Brought to print to take advantage of America's presumed fascination with the '94 World Cup (the first ever held here), Fever Pitch is a 24-year obsessional diary of English club football (soccer, to us Americans) games Hornby has witnessed and the way these games have become inextricable from his personal life. Hornby is the kind of fanatic who merely shrugs about the "tyranny" the sport exerts over his life--the mumbled excuses he must give at every missed christening or birthday party as a result of a schedule conflict. "Sometimes hurting someone," he writes, "is unavoidable." These occasions tend to bring out "disappointment and tired impatience" in his friends and family, but it is when he is exposed as a "worthless, shallow worm" that the similarly stricken reader can relate to the high costs of caring deeply about a game that means nothing to one's more well-adjusted friends. These moments are fleeting, however. The book has not been tailored for American audiences, so readers lacking a knowledge of English club football's rules, traditions, history and players will be left completely in the dark by Hornby's obscure references. Unfortunately, he has neither Roger Angell's ability to take us inside the game nor the pathos of Frederick Exley's brilliantly disturbed autobiographical trilogy. Though Hornby does show flashes of real humor, Fever Pitch features mainly pedestrian insights on life and sport, and then it's on to the next game--the equivalent, for an American reader, of a nil-nil tie. Author appearances.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
A brilliant book, and one that needs to be emulated by a North American author to bring the message of the sport fanatic here to those who can't relate to soccer here in North America.
Most recent customer reviews
A vivid and sometimes poignant story of a London boy, who comes to be an ardent fan of Arsenal Football Club. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Cliomedia
FEVER PITCH will not resonate with everyone, the same way Palahniuk's LULLABY won't and the likes of McCrae's KATZENAJAMMER will not fall into the category of "must haves. Read morePublished on Aug. 4 2007 by Camdon Greene
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... Read morePublished on June 14 2005 by David V. Bresson
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. Read morePublished on Feb. 15 2004 by Jason Lin
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. Read morePublished on Dec 14 2003 by Judge Knott
This book was extremely pointless. Since each entry is a memory, they are written like them so they don't have an insteresting story-telling narrative. Read morePublished on Nov. 13 2003 by J. Hyman
"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... Read morePublished on Oct. 27 2003 by J R Zullo
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