on August 8, 2002
I've been meaning to write a review of this book for a long time, but since Nick Hornby reawakened in me many of my childhood sports fan obsessions when I read it for the first time in 1999, I've been too busy. Not only did "Fever Pitch" remind me how irrationally and how much I loved my own hometown team (the heartbreaking Boston Red Sox) but he turned me into a fan of English football and his own Arsenal Gunners to the point where I follow them daily on ESPN's soccernet, LISTEN (!?) to them on internet radio broadcasts and have even gone to two games in London over the past two years. It's sick really, and I suppose it's not the kind of thing Hornby would have wanted when he wrote this quintessential memoir of growing up a soccer fan in England, but I've enjoyed it
"Fever Pitch" is an obsessive's tale as much as it is a fan's story, and so should appeal to the same wide audience that enjoys his excellent novels (It was my love for "High Fidelity" that sent me straight to this book). It is a memoir of surprising depth considering how it is organized only by the dates of soccer matches between 1968 and 1991, and it makes perfect sense that Hornby, or any true fan, should see the rest of his life (parents' divorce, his own education, romantic and career trouble) primarily as it relates to the team he spends so much time, money and psychic energy on.
The irony, for me, was finding out after I read "Fever Pitch" for the first time that Arsenal was one of the top teams of the last decade in England, so Hornby at least gets to feel the joy that we Red Sox fans are still waiting for. Sure, we're ecstatic the Pats won the Super Bowl, but our lives will change forever when Boston brings home the World Series. But after "Fever Pitch," I'll remember to laugh like the rest of the world laughs when American sports leagues crown their title-holders "world" champions.
on August 18, 1999
This is without a doubt the best book on football (soccer) that I have ever read. It is also the best book dealing with sports that I have ever read. It describes like no other book I have read what it means to be a fan.
Although this book follows the life of an Arsenal supporter, anyone can read it, because Hornby's experiences are no different than those of any committed, "obsessed" football fan. I am a Leeds supporter, and much of what Hornby said described what I feel, so perfectly. I especially liked the part when he went on about wanting to switch allegiances if he could, but found out that he couldn't because he was too emotionally tied to Arsenal. No matter how poorly they played, or how frustrated they made him feel, he still supported the club. I've felt the same way about Leeds on many an occasion.
A great book about life, not just about football.
on June 27, 2002
Thanks to the once in every four year buzz I get when the World Cup is taking place I thought that it was an appropriate time to begin reading the only Hornby book that I hadn't yet cracked which incidentally is his autobiography and a loving testament to the game of football. With those factors in mind, I figured I couldn't go wrong with this one but sadly, for the first time, I was a bit let down by one of Hornby's books.
My main problem with this book stems from the fact that I missed out on approx. 30% of the context because I didn't know the people (players and coaches), places and teams that he spends a great deal of time espousing on. This book is written with the assumption that the reader is steeped in all the lore, historical trivia and nuance of British football and for those with limited knowledge, well I suppose they'll find themselves grasping at times trying to catch up with Hornby's detailed play-by-play enactments of memorable goals and on field blunders. Another thing - this is Hornby's first book and it shows. For those readers accustomed to his flowing, easy to digest prose in future works ('High Fidelity,' 'About a Boy,' 'How to be Good') you might be a bit surprised at how clunky his words form here. Yes, there are some very Hornbyesque passages and moments but for the most part it can be choppy reading at times but is interesting in the framework of mind knowing how his future works will evolve into crystalline works of literary brilliance.
On the positive note, this book will certainly strike a chord for every hardcore sports fanatic out there. Hornby lovingly touches on the idiosyncracies that every true 'fan' experiences from: Superstitious ritual, disdain for the casual and/or bandwagon fan, the psyche of those who faithfully follow bad teams, etc. Also, you'll find the occassional gem on the beauty of Football/Soccer as a pure sport that makes reading through this 247 page book ultimately worthwhile.
on January 14, 2000
In this book is brought to life the passion felt by every true english football (soccer for Americans)fan. I can relate to Hornsby being an avid supporter of second division team Oldham Athletic. Five years ago we were in the premiership and beating Man Utd; one of our local rivals, one nil at Wembley in the F.A Cup semi-final, last year we barely avoided relegation. I am part of the 5,000 faithful who turn up every week in the usual rain, hopeful that the good days will return (If they do I hope the 20,000 Man Utd glory hunters don't return also). Although being a Gunner, Hornsbys' days of pain are pretty much over, people around the world should take the opportunity to see how much a part of english lives football really is. Sticking with your team through the lowest of the lows, and the feeling you get from the highs. You could say its only a game, but to the english its a way of life, we have an innate love. This is conveyed in Hornsbys' book, and after reading it, you can begin to understand just how gutted and depressed every english person alive felt after Euro '96 and World Cup '98. Come on America, you may love your sports, but no-one will love a sport more than the english love football;born and bred from our land.
on September 4, 2000
Nick Hornby is now desevedly well known for High Fidelity, but in my opinion this book is even better. The story centers around his obsession with the English Division 1 football team Arsenal, but you don't have to like or care about the sport to really enjoy this book. If you happen to be somewhat on the fanatical side of devotion to a particular team in any sport, you'll see a lot here that will ring very true. My own life-and-death sports devotion is tied to another sport (American college football) and another team (Ohio State), but I was nodding my head in recognition of my own feelings and behavior many times through this book. As in High Fidelity, Hornby really captures the essence of this experience and expresses it in a way that is precise, revealing and humorous. Hornby may be a novelist, but he's a very good psychologist too.
So if you are a fanatic devotee of a sports team (doesn't matter what team or what sport) or you'd like to understand someone who is - then read this book. Highly recommended!
With 'High Fidelity' opening in theatres soon (supposedly at the end of March 2000), the buzz from Nick Hornby's work will reach a fever pitch. Want to know where Hornby finds the inspiration and raw material to craft the exquisitely detailed and accurate pictures of male angst such as Rob Fleming ('High Fidelity') or Will Freeman ('About a Boy')? Look no further than the life of Hornby himself.
On the surface, 'Fever Pitch' follows Hornby's life-long obession with Arsenal, the English Premier league team he dutifully follows through good times and bad. But this is more than a story about football (or soccer, if you will). It's also the story of a complex person struggling to make things right with his family, the various woman that pass through his life, and his career.
Make no mistake: the brilliant writer that created Rob Fleming did not appear overnight. Like Rob, Hornby struggled with his passions for years before achieving his breakthrough with 'Fever Pitch.' A previous reviewer notes that this is a biography that does not work because of the author's lack of an 'interesting life.' I disagree - the reason Rob Fleming connects with so many readers (see the 'High Fidelity' customer review section for the raptorous comments from men and women alike) is because of his normalcy and our shock at seeing so many of our own thoughts crystallized so perfectly on the page.
The same holds true for 'Fever Pitch,' but with the caveat that a lot of what you read here is distilled through the experience of English football.
My recommendation: if you're a football/soccer fanatic, this is a book you simply must read and keep in your collection, regardless of whether you've read either of Hornby's other works. If don't know *anything* about the game and are not too keen to learn, read this book only after you've read 'High Fidelity' and 'About a Boy.' Then sit back and marvel at the connections between the trilogy of characters that are Hornby, Fleming, and Freeman.
on March 31, 2000
When I received `Fever Pitch' a couple of years ago I thought, "How nice. A book about English soccer (of which I am a fan)." While this is partly true, there is so much more to this book than that. It is about dealing with relationships; family, friends and others. It is about the process of growing up, and all the problems it entails. It is about frustration and desire and dreams and secret fears. It is about obsession, in whatever form it takes, and how some people seem to be particularly prone to it. Which means that, ultimately, I feel that I can identify with the author in a way that I have not been able to with other books that I have read. I've now read it seven times in the last 2 years. Every time that I read I laugh, cringe, get angry and cry at the events that Hornby relates. One passage has helped me in particular, Hornby writes "Non-footballing friends and family have never met anyone madder than I; indeed, they are convinced that I am as obsessed as it is possible to be. But I know there are people who would regard the level of my commitment...as inadequate." If only I could get my wife, family and friends to read this book I am sure they would look upon me much more kindly. No matter what your obsession might be, I think that reading this book will help you to understand yourself just that little bit more.
on July 11, 2000
Just a quick, simple warning to potential buyers who liked "High Fidelity" and/or "About A Boy": "Fever Pitch" is not quite in the same vein. It's a fine book on footie--and is the perfect gift for any Arsenal fan--but the book should more accurately be titled "Literary Journal of an Arsenal Fan." Each mini-chapter is catalogued by a specific Arsenal match (score, date, and pitch), and although there're some autobiographical vignettes about life/love, these are few and far between amidst pages and pages of discussion about Arsenal -- the team, its players, its matches, its history. In short, and I submit this review only to distinguish this book from Hornby's later stuff (and because I saw it being touted on the Amazon splashpage): "Fever Pitch" is not fiction, and there's not much of a plot. And unless you're already a moderate football fan, you're gonna' be bored and disappointed.
on August 30, 1999
Nick Hornby's "Fever Pitch" is one of the best sports books written in the modern day. His obsession with the Arsenal Football Club goes beyond being a fan and into being a glutton for punishment. Waiting for Arsenal to make good on a play, waiting for them to score, waiting for them to lose, being miserable in the weather, being physically injured but still standing on the North End of Highbury watching a nil-nil draw, but most of all being a devoted fan, rellishing in the good points about Arsenal (26th May, 1989!) and then returning to the drab, old way again and again, season after season.
He describes his love of the team in a way that anyone could apply it to their own favorite team, not just English football, but American football, baseball, hockey, etc. His descriptive humor is what makes you find yourself laughing out loud during the book. A must read for fans of sports everywhere!
on May 18, 1998
I write just 48 hours after Arsenal have completed the Double for the second time (16 May 1998)! How Nick Hornby must be celebrating! We went to Highbury for the first time in the New Year, knowing that somewhere in the crowd was the Nick Hornby. We thought we saw his done-head on the pitch - sorry, my mistake, that was Steve Bould!
Seriously, though, I read this book last summer and my daughter, aged 14, read it after me. We rate it 10, because it sums up everything British football supporters feel about British football. "Fever Pitch" speaks for us so well that most of us who are football supporters feel that we should have written this book ourselves!
Much as he may dislike the description, Nick Hornby is typical of the modern British football supporter, middle-class, analytical, cynical yet obsessive. With the demolition of the terraces has gone football's cloth cap image. In its place are the people who can afford £15 or so per match (£60 for a family of four with no child reductions) to sit in Highbury's all-seater North Bank.
I liked the format, autobiography written as a series of match reports. I identify with Nick Hornby when he relates that he sat petrified in his seat for an hour before kick-off, terrified that Arsenal might lose, and, later on, willing on the final whistle. I love the arrogance in which he writes that it really was not good enough: Arsenal were out of Europe, had not won the FA Cup and were only fourth in the League!
The bits I enjoyed most was the account of how an un-named Everton centre half (we all know who he was!) scored an own goal and how Malcolm MacDonald claimed it for his own! Also, how Cambridge United, when they scored, played "Oh what a lovely bunch of coconuts!" on the tannoy. His accounts of football hooliganism in the 1980s are graphic and should down in the history books.
Although I am with Hornby 100% when he writes about football, he does not convince me so much when he gets on to the male psyche - maybe becaus! e I am a woman. When Hornby is writing about football, he is writing from the gut. On the male psyche, I feel he is digesting what other people have said and written and he does not carry so much conviction.
I am a woman and a football supporter. Maybe there is another book to be written about woman football supporters - we are a growing band.