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==Synopsis of the book:==
Jimmy Stirling hates football. Nothing odd or unusual about that, many people share that sentiment. Although it is slightly different when you are a sports journalist working on a national paper and that is the sport you are supposed to be writing about. However Jimmy has been writing his articles for nearly 20 years and he has got to the stage that he doesn't care if he never watches another game of football in his life. The only thing keeping him there is he has never done anything else and the mortgage he must pay to keep a roof over his families' heads.
He has reached a critical crossroads in his life, he is approaching 40 and life certainly is making him unhappy, angry and bitter. In a world where football is becoming a national obsession he has fallen out of love with the beautiful game and the over paid celebrities that adorn it. From his editor, to his fellow journalists he now can't stand them and everything they do, say and their fanatical interest in the game.
==My thoughts on the book:==
For those who know me will know that I am a football fan. I am a season ticket holder at Maidenhead United Football Club, admittedly not the best Club in the country, but my local Club and one who I watch every other Saturday come rain or shine. I would describe myself as keen and enthusiastic rather than fanatical. So with that in mind I am always interested in reading books about the game and different perspectives on it.
However I have to say in my opinion this is one of the poorest books I have read about the game. I think the best thing about it was the initial concept of a man who had to write about the game for a living and hating it. When I saw this novel on the bookshelf I was so impressed with the book title and after reading the fascinating sounding summary on the back cover I decided I must purchase it. It cost me £7.19 for this paperback and I really looked forward to a thoughtful and pulsating read.
I found the book was really difficult to get into as the author was trying to be witty and deep at different times and I just found myself confused. I would have preferred he had concentrated on one of these themes as for me it did not work. As in one scene he is trying to come to turns with his father's death and reminiscing about him, which was touching, deep and sentimental. Then in the next he is with his fellow sports journalists in the pub and they are enjoying a few beers and relaxing. While there was plenty of humour I found following something as thought provoking as the death of a loved one it washed over my head and I couldn't find it funny at all.
This is this author's first novel and I think he is right to pick this subject to write about. My reason for saying this is Will Buckley is a football writer; so to write about something you know, understand and have a good knowledge on is always very sensible as it is always in my opinion reflected in the quality of your writing. I did admire his knowledge of the game and from what he shared and the situations the lead character found himself clearly demonstrated it. I laughed about at a few of his scenes and I really found it amusing he did not go to some of the games he was supposed to instead he would watch Sky Sports and listen to the reports on there.
The book dealt with a man struggling to find his purpose in life. At times I felt I could relate to Jimmy Stirling. I enjoyed his personal life, his unusual family that I always wanted to feature more in the story. I wanted to know more about them, particularly his wife who seemed to feature little in the story. Although I found his outlook on finance odd, never opening a bank statement or checking your account. How can anyone live like that? I would have preferred to have a deeper more in-depth story concentrating on this aspect rather than all the often confusing, dull and shallow conversations involving his job.
The author's style of writing I found confusing and his work lacked clarity. I would have liked far more depth in his work, in particular when describing either a scene or a character. For me it showed this was his first novel and I felt the book really went nowhere and I wasn't sure what he was trying to say to me.
Jimmy Sterling was the novels lead character. I found him good in this role, as I liked all the things he had to deal with. It was just a pity that it involved so much banal football talk. To be honest I think the author could easily have centred the whole story on Jimmy and his family and left his job out of it. As there was enough quality and storyline involving them to keep the reader amused and entertained. I found I wanted to read these scenes not the ones the involved either his work or his football cronies in the pub.
I found the books pace steady, but what disappointed me about this 304 pages story was the real lack of a definitive conclusion. I expected more and as a result it was a damp squid of an ending that left was ultimately dissatisfied with it and made me wonder why I had wasted so much time on it.
I would not recommend this novel to anyone, even fanatical football fans as it was disjointed, confusing and ultimately disappointing. For me the author fell badly between two stalls trying to entertain and be funny while trying at the same time to deal with difficult and sensitive issues such as death and family problems. As a result it did not work at all for me and I really struggled to complete the book and I did not enjoy it.
Thank you for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
@CPTDANIELS Fenruary 2010