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Modern Classics Fever Pitch: Twentieth Anniversary Edition Paperback – Sep 25 2012
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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
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
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... Read more
This book offers a very good image of the extremes that fans go to for their addiction when it ocmes to soccer. Read morePublished on July 19 2003 by Denis Benchimol Minev
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? Read more