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The Man Who Hated Football Paperback – 4 May 2004
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"Buckley is a talented writer and storyteller. This is a smart, speedy and likeable debut." -- Observer
'Hilarious.' -- The Observer
'The extravagant, sleazy world of contemporary football seems the perfect setting for a satirical novel.' -- Kasia Boddy, Daily Telegraph
A novel about a family man struggling to reconcile his shambolic personal life with the job of football reporting he has grown to hate. Jimmy Stirling has a wife who despairs of him and a job as a football reporter, but his editor despairs of him too. In fact, his editor despises him. Jimmy Stirling despairs of his job, himself and the local Budgens where most of his meagre salary goes providing for his needy twins (and his aggressive smoking habit). And his father has just died, and the mortgage is destroying him, and the pints in the Butt of Lewis (his London pub) and the Hare and Greyhound (his country pub) are getting on top of him. Is his wife having an affair? Does he want an affair? Is he having an affair? Does he want to hold on to his job? And the planes have just gone into the towers and there is another football column to pen. Ladies and gentlemen, in Will Buckley's hilarious and piercing first comic novel, I'm afraid we have another man in crisis.See all Product description
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Loved the sly dig at Jimmy's sunday supplement, I cant help watching it now thinkng how terribly seriously the panelists take it. There's more laughs on question time! Will Buckley is also someone to aspire to for me, as someone who gave up on law to become a sports writer. It would be great if he could write a book about a legal version of a rebellious stirling who works for a law firm. The legal proffession, like football could do with a shot in the arm.
Ok, so it's not funny but it still might be a great work of literature. Sadly, no.
There are almost as many commas as there are words; most sentences peppered between them.
Or as the author would probably write...
There are almost, but not quite, as many commas, irritating for sure, as there are words with, surprisingly, most sentences, as this one, peppered, liberally, I might add with irritation, may I say very irritating, inclusions between them.
In one of the few other novels I've read, a clutch of the main characters all suffer a vaguely comical death at the end, and I really wished that Stirling and co would go the same way. Having skim-read some of the more dreary sections, I was glad to get to the end, and would not recommend this book to anyone except cheesed-off football writers.
TMWHF is a witty and entertaining read that puts Buckley on the literary map (somewhere between Guy Bellamy and Kingsley Amis) and on the physical map (somewhere between Ipswich and Norwich). Unlike the previous reviewer, I had no difficulty finishing the book in a day, nor in laughing out loud (the swimming gag leaps to mind).
If like me, you have looked despairingly into your pint whilst your colleagues and friends take football seriously, then this is a book you have to read. I will recommend this book to anyone above the age of 14 who is genuinely disappointed by England's failure to compete.
I tend to agree wholeheartedly with the reader that found this dreary and pointless. The satire of football writers is nasty, shallow and unilluminating, and the lack of perception about the game itself is staggering when you consider that the author has been paid to write about football in his life.
This is the work of a bitter writer, who resents that fact that other people take pleasure from something he himself has lost interest in. That's all. Avoid.