- Paperback: 296 pages
- Publisher: Tindal Street; Main edition (7 May 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0955647657
- ISBN-13: 978-0955647659
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,370,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Heartland Paperback – 7 May 2009
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Very possibly the best novel about the World Cup' (Esquire Esquire)
World Cup fever-set during the World Cup football in 2002 and perfect for displays and promotions,Ambitious, up-to-the-minute and riveting- Heartland by Anthony Cartwright reveals an author of enormous accomplishment,Chosen as a BBC Radio 4 'Book At Bedtime'See all Product description
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The structure of the book is fairly complex - no separate chapters, just sections of First Half, Half Time, Second Half and Final Score. The accounts of the two football matches flow into each other - so you have to keep alert! I also found it difficult at first to keep track of all the characters and their relationship to one another - solved this by making a list.
However this book is well worth sticking with. It gives a good picture of a working class area in the present time. It is especially good on the lost dreams and fading ambitions of the two ex-footballers and on the secrets that are held by so many. And it would have been so easy to turn the whole story into a "racists versus good folk". He refuses to fall into this trap - the characters are nuanced rather than good and evil.
And you don't need to be a football fan to enjoy this book!
Nonetheless, it has plenty of merits. The social insight is sharp and well-observed, with good details squirreled away and not signposted as if you are a moron. The description of failed footballers and their slow decline is well described, and Cartwright avoids crude stereotyping of `good' and `bad' characters; all the characters have their virtues and flaws, excuses and reasons. The politics carry the grubby amateurism that pervades local council life, and different cultures are sensitively and skilfully observed. As social commentary, it works very well.
It is intended as a `slice of life' with no distinct beginning or end, but for me this is a drawback to the book. As the story continues, it becomes clear that it lacks a coherent direction, and so lacks any momentum or pace. It moves at one speed, knowing it will never reach a conclusion. I think Cartwright could legitimately have taken the story somewhere, and created an arc to some of the characters, without sacrificing the social realism and authenticity he sought.
Provided you are prepared to work at physically reading this, you will get an excellent slice of Black Country life in 2002, without judgements or moralising. Next time, I would like to see Cartwright commit more to a plot, which needn't mean sacrificing the fundamentals he has developed so well here.
The Midlands, spring 2002. Racial tensions are rising due to the proposed building of a "Super Mosque" on the site of the old factory that supported many of the families of the area. The BNP are getting a hold on the voters as the local elections loom and a Sunday league football match becomes the unwelcome focal point for all parties.
The main character Rob is a failed professional footballer, now working as a teaching assistant in the local school, where he helps pupils with reading difficulties. Every week he meets Zubair, the brother of Rob's missing childhood friend Adnan, for a drink and now they face playing on the opposite sides on the football match that the media believe could ignite the racial tindersticks in the area.
Rob's uncle, Jim, is standing for the Labour party in the elections against Bailey, the BNP candidate who has sponsored Rob's football team. The team is managed by Glenn, Rob's childhood friend now an enthusiastic member of the BNP and it is through him and Bailey that the match against the local Mosque team has become to represent more than just the title clincher which it could have been.
At the same time, a young man that Rob teaches, is stabbed in a seemingly unprovoked attack, which could have deeper implications for the community.
This is an incredibly pertinent and sensitive book. It never shies from difficult issues and presents a balanced and honest portrayal of a community at breaking point. Cartwright builds up the relationships between families and friends with a real skill and there are some magnificent characterisations. It has the feeling of a Ken Loach or Mike Leigh film, but at no point allows itself to be weighed down by the seriousness of it's concerns. He creates a community which is believable and honest and one for which you genuinely fear for. There is a sense of danger bubbling under the surface of the novel, with so much potential to flare up into confrontation, but the fact that he never allows it to dip into sensationalism or soap opera makes the book all the more potent.
Stylistically this is a masterwork. There are a number of strands and timelines running through the text and he dips in and out of different characters point of views at various points; but it is done with such deftness that it is always possible to follow events. This structure allows him to build not just a story, and it is a masterful piece of storytelling, but also to sketch out an entire community, and by the time you have finished the book you feel that you know and care for all the characters.
The way in which he juxtaposes the Sunday league match with the England versus Argentina, including the Beckham/Simone tension, is particularly well-written.
But it is the subtleties of this book that make it special; the lack of judgement and the trust that he places in his readers, to allow them to draw their own conclusions and not try to hammer home polemic.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews
It's written in " Black Country " dialect.Read more