Fever Pitch (Anglais) Broché – 6 mai 2010
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The few times when Hornby actually discusses his own life are interesting, but those moments are far too few, and most of the time we have to somehow trudge through description and analysis of a game we don't understand and care about. There's something flippant about this work, which is too bad because Hornby at his best does offer penetrating analysis.
Here's a sample of Hornby at his best:
"One thing I know for sure about being a fan is this: it is not a vicarious pleasure, despite all the appearances to the contrary, and those who say that they would rather do than watch are missing the point. Football is a context where watching becomes doing -- not in the aerobic sense, because watching a game, smoking your head off while doing so, drinking after it has finished and eating chips on the way home is unlikely to do you a whole lot of Jane Fonda good, in the way that chuffing up and down a pitch is supposed to. But when there is some kind of triumph, the pleasure does not radiate from the players outwards until it reaches the likes of us at the back of the terraces in a pale and diminished form; our fun is not a watery version of the team's fun, even though they are the ones that get to score the goals and climb the steps at Wembley to meet Princess Diana. The joy we feel on occasions like this is not a celebration of others' good fortune, but a celebration of our own; and when there is a disastrous defect the sorrow that engulfs us is, in effect, self-pity, and anyone who wishes to understand how football is consumed must realise this above all things. The players are merely our representatives, chosen by the manager rather than elected by us, but our representatives nonetheless, and sometimes if you look hard you can see the little poles that join them together, and the handles at the side that enable us to move them. I am part of the club, just as the club is a part of me; and I say this fully aware that the club exploits me, disregards my views, and treats me shoddily on occasions, so my feeling of organic connection is not built on a muddle-headed and sentimental misunderstanding fo how professional football works. This Wembley win belonged to me every bit as much as it belonged to Charlie Nicholas or George Graham...and I worked every bit as hard for it as they did. The only difference between me and them is that I have put in more hours, more years, more decades than them, and so had a better understanding of the afternoon, a sweeter appreciation of why the sun still shines when I remember it."
I did learn quite a bit about the history and psychology of the Arsenal football club and that was the most interesting portion of the book for me. I now understand much better why Arsenal developed a reputation over the years as being "boring" and I thought the portion of the book where Hornby described the club's flirtation with "Total Football" to be interesting. There just wasn't enough of that sort of content in the book to hold my interest. If you are an Arsenal fan, I think this would be an excellent book to learn more about the history of the club as seen through a fan's eyes who watched it unfold over the years.
Hornby, of course, is a talented writer and his enthusiasm (and frustrations) come through very well in the prose.