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Bloody Confused!: A Clueless American Sportswriter Seeks Solace in English Soccer Paperback – August 5, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Wonderful anecdotes about real people enjoying the national passtime. Really took me back home.
Don't get the wrong idea. I loved the parts where he just talked soccer and his reactions to it...I just tend to dislike the parts where he's so blatantly anti-american that I found myself hard pressed to finish even the following page. It's not that i'm a hugely patriotic or anything. More that I find myself understandably offended when the writer continually calls my intelligence into question.
"With Americans sharing a common inability to view a map and spot, say, Louisiana-this helps explain why it took us four days to get food to sarving Americans after Hurricane Katrina-Americans certainly could not point out Wigan."
Now, i'm sure we're not all the best a geography, but is it really necessary to insult your readers (afterall, a goodly portion of the people who bought this book were Americans) to such a degree that it becomes annoying and tiring? The author could not go two pages without criticizing some facet of America and it's culture/sports/educations system/etc etc. Could the book not have focused more on soccer (since that was what the book was supposed to be about) and less on the fact that the author obviously has some lingering bitterness with his country of birth?
I really think this book could have been great had it simply kept its focus on soccer and less on the author's personal feelings towards the American people.
All in all, a worthwhile book, even if the moralizing was a bit much.
I had never heard of the author, had only an extremely superficial familiarity with the top English league in its current incarnation (the Premiership), and still had somewhat of an outdated view of the English soccer world heavily colored by the well-publicized violence of the 80s. For the role I think it is intended to play (an introduction for Americans to how being an in-person, stadium-going, road-tripping fan of this sport/league is so different from the experience of many typical fans of baseball, basketball, and American football), it succeeds admirably. And I think the writing is quite skillful. OK, it's not quite Peter Gammons or Roger Angell (Mightn't it have been amazing if one of them had pursued this project?), but to me it's a real "find."
Yes, the notion that you can CHOOSE your wonderfully irrational attachment to a team is hard to swallow, but somehow Culpepper seems so open and honest and fairly self-deprecating about the perverse thing that he is consciously doing makes it seem OK to me. I am rather conflicted about this myself, having adopted Chelsea way back in 1967 when I lived there for a year, and their team was second-tier in the old First Division, and the whole world was so different, but finding it very hard to root for them today on TV when they are so obviously parallel in so many ways to the Damn Yankees (the baseball team, not the whole nation).
There are so many enjoyable little moments in this book, especially of two types: the breathless narrative descriptions of particular, concentrated several-second intervals (usually, but not always, leading up to goals) that turn out to be turning points in a game or even the entire season, and the accounts, some more coherent than others, of the constant "devotional" chants of the fans and how ironic it is to reflect on where their tunes originated (most often in the U.S., in a very different context and spirit).
This is a book that may seem sophomoric or even naive to an English Premier League expert, but is really worth the relatively short time spent to read it for many others like me. As others have noted, it could very conceivably be read in one sitting, but it is also very well suited to picking up here and there for a short half-chapter at a time (e.g., during those annoying commercial breaks in televised American sports, with their so-un-soccer-like extended pauses!).
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My real purpose here is to comment that what I saw of his writing in the local newspaper here in...Read more