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on 23 July 2008
Nick Hornby's warm autobiographical book deals with his life as a football fan from 1968 (when he was a teenager) until 1992, especifically as he supported his beloved Arsenal during that time. There's some good insights about football culture (for a true football fan, football is not really an entertainment, a concept that is probably hard to understand in the US, where sports are just a part of the entertainment business) as well as football tactics (there are few good passers in the sports, he says, as hard as this might be to believe to outsiders; Liam Brady, one of his favorite players, was that rare player, a great passer). Each of the chapters (so to call them) deals with a particular football match that he remembers during that period. And along football, he also makes comments on his relationships, be it with his family or with girlfriends. What Hornby tells is the story of English football in his last throes, a time when hooliganism ruled, but when it also was a genuine, integral pastime of the English people. When the Premiere League was established (in 1992, the year this book ends), and the megamoney and the huge tv contracts came along, and some clubs (like, say, Arsenal) did not put in the field a single English player, it became more of a commercial business and less of a cultural phenomenon. And while I like football, it's hard not to come out from reading this book with the impression that being a football fan at the level Hornby was is not a colossal waste of time.
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on 12 June 2001
Hornby pinpoints 1968 as his formative year--the year he turned 11, the year his parents separated, and the year his father first took him to watch Arsenal play. The author quickly moved 'way beyond fandom' into an extreme obsession that has dominated his life, loves, and relationships. His father had initially hoped that Saturday afternoon matches would draw the two closer together, but instead Hornby became completely besotted with the game at the expense of any conversation: 'Football may have provided us with a new medium through which we could communicate, but that was not to say that we used it, or what we chose to say was necessarily positive.' Girlfriends also played second fiddle to one ball and 11 men. He fantasizes that even if a girlfriend 'went into labour at an impossible moment' he would not be able to help out until after the final whistle.
Fever Pitch is not a typical memoir - there are no chapters, just a series of match reports falling into three time frames (childhood, young adulthood, manhood). While watching the May 2, 1972, Reading v. Arsenal match, it became embarrassingly obvious to the then 15-year-old that his white, suburban, middle-class roots made him a wimp with no sense of identity: 'Yorkshire men, Lancastrians, Scots, the Irish, blacks, the rich, the poor, even Americans and Australians have something they can sit in pubs and bars and weep about.' But a boy from Maidenhead could only dream of coming from a place with 'its own tube station and West Indian community and terrible, insoluble social problems.'
Fever Pitch reveals the very special intricacies of British football, which readers new to the game will find astonishing, and which Hornby presents with remarkable humour and honesty-the 'unique' chants sung at matches, the cold rain-soaked terraces, giant cans of warm beer, the trains known as football specials carrying fans to and from matches in prison like conditions, bottles smashing on the tracks, thousands of policemen waiting in anticipation for the cargo of hooligans. The sport and one team in particular have crept into every aspect of Hornby's life--making him see the world through Arsenal-tinted spectacles
Hornby's Fever Pitch is the Remembrance of Things Past of soccer writing. Like Proust, Hornby has a brilliant feel for the way many of life's profounder moments are filtered through the mundane. Hornby has gone on to greater fame as a novelist, the author of High Fidelity and About a Boy. But his subject in the novels remains the same as in this soccer memoir: men who view their whole life through the prism of their obsession. And Hornby's obsession is soccer.
From the first sentence, we understand it's a love affair: 'I fell in love with football as I was later to fall in love with women: suddenly, inexplicably, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain or disruption it would bring.' 'Uncritically' seems to be laying it on a bit thick, though. Each chapter in the book is built around the match that Hornby attended that week. Every detail of Hornby's life from age 11 to 34 is scrutinized through the lens of his unwavering support for Arsenal, a powerhouse London team. When his parents split up, all his dad can offer to interrupt the long, silent weekends is a trip to the match. Young Nick clings to the sport and the team as the only thing that makes sense in his world.
Hornby's strength is his ability to render all of life's moments as reflected through the triumphs and disappointments - mostly the disappointments - of the Arsenal eleven. He acknowledges that his support of Arsenal is the longest, most meaningful relationship he has had in his life. Fever Pitch is Hornby's attempt to understand his own life, and he realizes that this effort would be shallow and disingenuous if he didn't view his life in terms of that relationship.
So, even as he contemplates marriage, we find him fretting over the fortunes of the team. As he tries to quit smoking, we watch him struggle to make it through close matches at the end of the season without lighting up. He freely admits that the start of the Gulf War, which was announced on the scoreboard during a pivotal match with Everton, took a back seat to Arsenal's 1-0 win. Hornby's viewing his entire existence through soccer does not diminish the events of his life. Instead, his memories register all that much more crisply because they pack the emotive force of a well-struck ball hitting the back of the net.
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on 7 June 2014
One of the best books I have ever read and -believe me- I've read many in my life. It deals with a fan's life, but it is about human beings in general. Nick Hornby's ability to dig into his own obsession is almost worth while of a psychology essay, without dismissing the pleasure of reading though.
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on 21 July 2004
This book is amazingly intuitive. Nick Hornby has been there and done that so far as genuine football supporting goes. He assesses in a surprisingly rational way (for one so irrational at times) both the benefits and the destructive nature of obsession. Although this book is based around the games of Arsenal (and a brief flirtation with Cambridge United) it says a lot more about human nature (and Charlie George's haircuts) than the tactics of George Graham! This book could save thousands of people from heartache if it was handed out to people entering relationships where only one partner is football obsessed! If you have a partner who baffles you with their shouts and screams and moods every Saturday afternoon between August and May - this book will help you to understand that they are the ones who need help - you will learn to pity and support them in their affliction. If you are one of those people who shout and scream and have moods every Saturday afternoon between August and May - you will learn that you are not alone. Read this book!
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on 13 August 1999
I am not a football fan. I have never watched a complete game of football in my life. I also do not understand the way sport continuely capture consume lives so completely...and so furfillingly. However it must be said that after downing this poignent mix of hope and reality, I feel I am closer to grasping that fundermental truth which so many fans already understand.. ..and that is life, just as sport is filled with uncertainty, joy, dissapointment and all that.. but also dedication, and loyalty. It's also about unrequited devotion and trust - whether it be for your team, your family, or even in yourself. Hornby has written a brilliant book that definitively captures the essense of being a fan, of any code or club. The way in which he talks of his beloved Arsenal, and the players that make up that union, makes us non-fans envious of the connection he has made, and the joy he has so obviously exprienced.
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on 15 January 2011
...but already I find myself nodding, chuckling or smiling in agreement and acknowledgment at a lot of the experiences Hornby writes about.

I won't deny I'm pretty obsessed with football, but frankly this book would go down well with anyone who lives/has lived/wants to live in Britain, because there's a lot of people living here who are secretly, and sometimes not so secretly, exactly like this!
I think it would also go down well with any long suffering wives of season ticket holders as a delve into the mindset of their other halves!

A damn good, generally light hearted piece of work by Hornby that it's very easy to begin to relate to, and then before you know it you're sucked in and you've ploughed halfway through the book before you know what's happening - for me, that's the sign of a good book - absorbing, and one the reader can relate to. Don't think about it, buy it!
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on 26 August 2004
Fever Pitch is an autobiography focussed on Nick Hornby's obsession as an Arsenal fan, from when he first supported Arsenal at 11 to when the book was written, in the middle of the 91/92 season.
Hornby describes what football means to big football fans very accurately and, as an Arsenal fan myself, I found that I could relate to him well. Fever Pitch is entertaining and very historically accurate also.
However, on the downside, there wasn't an awful lot of tension or suspence between chapters, which meant that Fever Pitch wasn't the easiest book to pick up and read.
I think that this book would appeal to a wide range of readers. From Arsenal fans who want to relive some of their finest moments(although it can hardly get better than it is now for Arsenal fans), to housewives with no interest in football who are attempting to fathom their husbands interest.
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on 22 November 1999
Many would associate Fever Pitch with the rest of those horrible football novels gone wrong but in fact Fever Pitch deals with a lot more.Fever Pitch deals with lots of social and economic issues such as social status,relationships,families,hooliganism and which I feel is most important a need for some kind of constant in our lives which we can fall back on in times of need.This is the main vertebrae of fever pitch as it deals with Hornby's using football as a metaphor for life theme comparing Arsenal and their surroundings to his own life as to try to make it all seem worth it.He feels that when Arsenal are performing on the football pitch it reflects on his own life which would seem to be a tragic comparison.
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on 1 August 2016
I am a football fan so I was very excited to read this book. A football fan surely love it but I think also people who aren't should read it too. It's a good detailed book about football fans and the game itself- an amazing sport and shows how all football supporters should behave. I would recommend this book to read.
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on 26 May 2016
I'm not an Arsenal fan but that doesn't matter (I actually support Liverpool) so there was one chapter I would prefer not to have been written but the rest of the book conveys exactly what it means to follow a team through thick and thin.
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