Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Beautiful Game - Soccer/Football Fiction

If you are a fan of "the beautiful game", why not combine that interest with your leisure reading? Here are a few recent soccer novels to get the ball rolling:

A Vine in the Blood (M)
by Gage Leighton

"It is the eve of the FIFA World Cup, the globe's premier sporting event. The host country is Brazil. A victory for the home team is inextricably linked to the skills of the country's principal striker, Tico "The Artist" Santos, the greatest player in the history of the sport. All the politicians in Brasilia, from the President of the Republic on down, have their seats squared-away for the finale, when they hope to see Argentina, Brazil's bitterest rival, humbled by the Brazilian eleven. But then, just three weeks before the first game, Juraci Santos, Tico's mother, is kidnapped. The star is distraught. The public is appalled. The politicians are outraged. And the pressure is on Chief Inspector Mario Silva to get her back..." - Publisher

Only a Game (M)
by J.M. Gregson

"Jim Capstick, the Chairman of Bruton Rovers Football Club, has guided the team to great success in the Premier League since he became the majority shareholder three years ago. But his brusque business style has made him many enemies in the small Lancashire mill town that is home to the club. As Bruton Rovers fight to stay in the Premiership, the club administrators are under pressure to tackle the mounting debts that come with the modern game. Many people would stand to lose out if the club failed to make a profit, including Darren Pearson, the club secretary with a guilty secret, Robbie Black, the fiery Scottish manager, and Edward Lanchester, the board member who ran the club in the days before millionaire footballers and Middle Eastern team owners." - Publisher

Awaydays (M)
by Kevin Sampson

"It's 1979 and in Birkenhead, smack and Maggie Thatcher are still less of an issue than Lois jeans and Adidas Forest Hills training shoes. For Paul Carty, 19, and his mystical, Joy Division-loving mate, Elvis, life revolves around The Pack, a mob of violent Tranmere Rovers supporters. Carty and Elvis travel the Northern wastelands, always by train, causing mayhem in the "woollyback" strongholds of Halifax, Crewe and Chesterfield. For most of the mob, The Pack is their reason for living. But Elvis, who loves Ezra Pound, and Carty, still getting over the death of his mother, are starting to get bored of it all. The question is: will The Pack let them go? And can they get by without each other?" - Publisher

Learning to Lose : a novel (M)
by David Trueba ; translated by Mara Faye Lethem

"It is Sylvia's sixteenth birthday, and her life as an adult is about to begin-not with the party she had been planning, but with a car accident and a broken leg. Behind the wheel is a talented young soccer player, just arrived from Buenos Aires and set for stardom on and off the field. As their destinies collide and a young romance is set in motion, across town, Sylvia's father and grandfather are finding their own lives suddenly derailed by a violent murder and a secret affair with a prostitute. Set against the maze of Madrid's congested and contested streets, Learning to Lose follows these four individuals as they swerve off course in unexpected directions. Each of them is dodging guilt and the fear of failure, but their shared search for happiness, love, purity, redemption, and, above all, a way to survive, forms a taut narrative web that binds the characters together.

From one of Spain's most celebrated contemporary writers, Learning to Lose is a lucid and gripping view into the complexities of lives overturned and into the capriciousness of modern life, with its intoxicating highs and devastating lows." - Publisher

Not Art : a novel (M)
by Péter Esterházy ; translated by Judith Sollosy

"Not Art is the story of a mother whose defining communication with the world is in the language of football, a vocabulary that eclipses not only her son, but everything else. Football, which in the author's penultimate book, Journey to the Depths of the Eighteen-Yard Line (2006), is a stage and a medium for private historiography, now acts as a filter through which the world is seen, and is the root of his relationship to his mother and his mother tongue: a mother's language complex. Readers will discover 'family stories', subtly written and rounded, filled with irony, beauty, history, the Magnificent Magyars, father, grandmother, aunt, uncle, mother, life and death. There is emotion-platonic love, marital love, and a son's love for his parents. And there is the Esterhazyesque auto-reflexive textual world (Where does the author begin and end?). Old world glamour meets fractured post-war reality in a tale that touches on many aspects of life and philosophy relevant to us today - while centering on a son's relationship to his mother and the game of football that they love." - Publisher

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