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Fever Pitch, by Nick Hornby

Posted on August 22, 2011 by samh

Fever Pitch, by Nick Hornby (1992)

This is the book that helped sales of football literature hit fever pitch.

Before Nick Hornby wrote his tale of his boyhood obsession with Arsenal, which he never grew out of, football books were largely something to be sneered at. If you were reading about the game it was probably because you were a Sun reader who could not manage sentences with more than three words.

Hornby changed all that – in the late 1990s it became positively trendy to be a football fan, and an explosion of books on the subject followed. Suddenly it was not just OK to have an obsession with a football club – you were square if you didn’t. Step forward Tony Blair (Newcastle), Zoe Ball (Manchester United), David Mellor (Chelsea) … and all the rest of the bandwagon-jumpers. Although Hornby’s book did a lot to help other excellent writers find a niche for their work, it did inspire mountains of dreadful cash-in imitations and provided a platform on which to market all sorts of dross as long as it was somehow connected with football.

The book itself is very readable; Hornby has a real knack for clear, flowing writing that makes the reader want to keep turning the pages. An interesting feature is that there are no chapters – it goes from match to match, just as Hornby did in real life. He says he did not think about time in years, but football seasons.

Where Hornby really succeeds – and what propelled this book into a mega-bestseller – is that he manages to make his obsession engaging even to readers who are not Arsenal fans, or even football fans. The subject is not really important – it is the obsession and its effect on his life, girlfriends and careers that is the real story.

A recommended read – even if just to find out where the whole new age of football writing came from.

Buy this book from Amazon

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