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Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby

 

Title: Fever Pitch

Author: Nick Hornby

Genre: Non-fiction, Sports

Publisher: Penguin, p238

Fever pitch was an autobiographical account of an obsessive Arsenal fan whose happiness, sadness and everything depend on Arsenal’s success or failure.

Most of us, Indian football fans, started watching English football from around 1996. That is the time when ESPN start telecasting one or two matches per weekend. That too most of them were United and Liverpool games. This would explain why India has lot of fans from these two clubs.

For the guys like me, who started around 2003/04 season, Arsenal was all. The invincible team on a great football ground (First renovated Highbury, then world class Emirates) with great players likes of Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira.  We don’t know the past. The period when the dying on the football ground due to hooliganism, wall collapse and lot more reasons.

This book explains a lot about that period which most of us do not know. We always habituated to imagine foreign stadiums are like this from start. No issues of spectator safety and comfort would have ever risen. If you are the person who always complains about quality of Indian stadiums, please read this book. In a country like UK, the stadiums should need more than 100 years to get improved; our stadiums are new and are in the process of improving. It will happen in time, so stop complaining.

The best thing about this book was that this was written in the view of a fan. I could relate to lot of things like planning the outings  and parties so that it would not affect him watching the matches, grumbling about the match whenever the team through away the lead and losing, we all do , don’t we?

The main part of the book is the 17 year trophy deficit until they won the league cup on 1987. The irony is now we are in the deficit of 6 years. So I could understand his feelings when he explains the joy he felt when the team won the league.

Also when Hornby explains his feelings after the team lost to Swindon in the cup final, I could relate it with the loss we suffered in the league cup final this year to the relegated Birmingham.

Fever pitch, another great non-fiction book I have read this year. If you are a football fan and following English Football for quite some time, this is a good read irrespective of whichever club you are. This book gives us lot of information that we would not possibly known from the period starting 1968 till 1991. If you are a Gunner’s fan, ‘Man, come on this is a book by one of us’.

No prizes for guessing my rating★★★★★

Only Time Will Tell (Clifton Chronicles #1)

 

Title: Only Time Will Tell

Author: Jeffery Archer

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Pan Macmillan, 384p

I read somewhere that Archer started writing Clifton Chronicles as he want to write something better than Kane and Abel, his best work so far.  ‘Only Time Will Tell’ is the first book of Clifton Chronicles that tells us about the young ages of the protagonist Harry Clifton.

Harry Clifton, Son of a docker who was being told his father was died in the Great War throughout his childhood somehow knows that wasn’t true. Raised by a single mother in a period when women hardly get any job, whether Harry able to fulfill his mother’s wish of getting him a better education and whether he learned the real reason of his father’s death if indeed he was his father, the book gives you the answer.

 I liked the way, the story being told. It was being told in the view of different people -Maisie Clifton, Harry, Old Jack, Hugo, Giles and Emma. He kept lot of open threads when the story was being told in the view of one person and close it when the concern person view is coming. For example, lot of questions about Old Jack was answered when the story takes his view.

I liked the part of Maisie Clifton. The struggles of a single mother who wants her son to get good education despite of many setbacks were superbly captured and you would definitely admire and pity her when this chapter ends. Other character I liked the most is Old Jack. His admiration of Harry as the son he never had and his efforts to fulfill Harry’s small wishes and get him good education makes him the most lovable person the novel.

Somehow the first volume of Clifton Chronicles did not have many incidents to like Harry as much as Maisie and Jack. I guess, Archer wrote this book as just the introduction of Harry and his background and future books will have more of him.

In few places, it reminded me Kane and Abel. Particularly the parts where sometimes we forget Harry is actually a little boy. Not sure why Archer always keeps his protagonists as over matured as a child.

Despite that this book makes a great read which would not disappoint you. Whether Archer achieved his goal of bettering Kane and Abel? Only time will tell when the sequels of Clifton Chronicles released.

 My Rating for this Archer’s novel is ★★★★☆

The Great Indian Novel By Shashi Tharoor

Title: The Great Indian Novel

Author: Shashi Tharoor

Genre: Fiction, Satricial

Publisher: Penguin, 423p

The book portrays the Mahabharata in the context of Indian independence struggle and few decades after the independence. All the important characters of Mahabharata represent prominent real life personalities in this book. It was fun to find out which personality each character represents.

This was a nicely written novel where comparison of each Mahabharata incident with that of real life incident is not that much easy. Also we need to accept the difficulty in getting all the important figures covered. Tharoor has a funny way of describing things and make us laugh with his dig at the current life when he describes the old age.

I think, writing the history as fiction gave him the freedom of telling his honest opinions about the characters without inviting much trouble. For ex., in one place he mentioned Gangaji (Gandhiji) is not a saint, he is a masterful tactician. Then, about Dhritirashtra (Nehru), he mentions ‘Had he got the eye and seen the world as we do our country would have been way different’. About the partition and Karna (Jinnah), Karna wanted a separate country not because he was very much muslim, but because Gangaji was too much of a Hindu. In one more place he mentions SC Bose was the main reason for the congress to reach ordinary people not Nehru.

All these controversial statements would have been huge issues had it not been the fiction genre. And these things made me think then why did he join Congress party? By looking at his views during the period of his writing of the novel, I am sure that he did not have intention of joining Congress anytime.

But I could feel his dilemma to decide whether emergency was a bad decision or the need of the hour. He maintains the emergency was not the right thing to do but still he defends Indira Gandhi, saying there was no other choice. He also criticizes the opposition for it. This part I do not agree with him. If someone protests against the government, they cannot simply go and implement emergency instead of trying to solve the issue.

This book is nice read if you are interested in politics and know something about the period the novel describes so that you can relate the things well as nothing was straight forward in it. You have to match the incident in the book with the real one. The book was mostly interesting and entertaining but somewhat boring in some parts as nothing new was told there. Also I was disappointed that some of the things like power struggle between Sardar Patel and Nehru, was not captured at all. Also the power struggle between Morarji Desai and Indira Gandhi before congress decided on Ms. Gandhi as president was not captured very well.

I would suggest this book to those who want to read some deeper things about the freedom struggle and politics of those periods if you do not know more than what taught at the schools and known to general public.

My Rating for this satricial novel is ★★★☆☆