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Fever Pitch Paperback – Apr 12 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 110 customer reviews

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99 by Wayne Gretzky 99 by Wayne Gretzky

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade; 1 edition (April 12 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573226882
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573226882
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 20.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 110 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #326,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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

By A Customer on Dec 27 2002
Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
After three books, Hornby seems to be the master of intimate narration. In "High Fidelity" and "About a Boy" I felt as if I was a part of the story, sitting inside his brain like a character on the canceled TV show Herman's Head, wincing at the mistakes and laughing at the happiness. You're along for the ride and you're emotionally attached all the way through. The books end and you're left with a sense of disbelief, wondering: "What happenned to our relationship? Why am I shut out?" and you sit around and wait for the next to come out. Fever Pitch precedes the two abovementioned books, and the narration is more raw and personal. Greater sadness, wistfulness comes through; instead of guessing that the main character is supposed to be Hornby, you know it's him. Reality can be more drab and longwinded than the fiction, but it's worth it. Hornby is poignant and honest and the overall effect is wonderful. Like other reviews mention, you don't need to be a sports fan to appreciate this book, although some practical knowledge of teams and grounds might help. A fine book, and something I'm happy was allowed to be published.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
Not only has Hornby written a book of superlative class full of street smart sensibility combined with wishful gullibility (how else do you describe the optimistic sports fan?), he has crafted the image of the typical sport fanatic in such an enjoyable and entertaining fashion that the book is impossible to put down. Mind you, being an Arsenal supporter has forced me to view the book through red and white glasses if you will. That aside, Hornby's book is an example of brilliant storytelling combined with the brutal honesty that often times is either missing or superficial among many of his peers. He writes of himself in a self depricating tone even though he knows his position is one to envy (who wouldn't love to have a passion that although is time consuming oftentimes also provides you with the motivation to get to the end of the day?).
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.
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It's fair to say that this book would probably improve tremendously with a knowledge of English football generally and of Arsenal history specifically. That being said, put this book in the hands of a male sports fan, and they will find familiar ground with Nick Hornby, the Arsenal obsessive. In fact, Hornby's never-say-die, thick-and-thin, death-do-us-part, there's-always-next-season attitude will be eerily familiar to any Cubs fan or anyone who has ever spent time with a Cubs fan between April and September. Much of Hornby's obsession is peculiar to English football (e.g. regular attendance at away games - an impossibility in the geographically spread United States), but an equal portion would be recognizable to anyone who has pledged their troth to a team of transient athletes and coaches. Hornby has written three great novels about men and the silly things that they do or over which they obsess, whether it be sports or popular music, or the professional pursuit of loafing. This is one of them, and a must read for anyone who is a sports obsessive or trying to get along with one.
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