Top critical review
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disappointing, and been done better elsewhere
on 30 April 2009
I purchased this book after reading extracts in The Times. The extracts looked promising but somehow the book just doesn't live up to them.
Mr Shindler is clearly trying to emulate David Peace's "faction" style, and he could hardly have chosen a better story to tell, especially for Manchester City supporters (like me) of a similar vintage to the author. For Cloughie's 44 days at Leeds read Mercer and Allison's seven years at City. Unfortunately, Mr Shindler's writing style does not seem suited to this type of book. So many of the supposed conversations just don't ring true, especially when the author feels the need to include profanities to make the dialogue more "realistic". Much of this seems forced and contrived, and some of the supposed conversations border on the cringeworthy. You just could never imagine them taking place. It's as if the author is trying to simulate how working class people speak, without ever having experienced it himself.
Also, he feels the need to include minute and irrelevant details into the text and this, together with an over-wordy writing style, really slows the pace of the book down and at times, sacrilege for a story about two such great characters, the book actually becomes a bit boring.
I wouldn't call it a bad book, but its merits lie solely in the fact that the basic story of Joe and Malcolm is such a great one, rather than the way in which the author has related the tale. Mr Shindler is certainly no David Peace. Indeed, Steve Mingle's excellent Allison Wonderland, which tells the story of the same era but mainly from Malcolm Allison's perspective, is far more entertaining and believable than this rather disappointing effort.