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John Lanchester: Arsenalesque Melancholy, 3 December 1992

... book about yobbery. The funny, sad, truth-telling Fever Pitch is not that kind of book.* Nick Hornby takes his cue from a fact well-known to football fans themselves: that the deepest current of feeling shared by football supporters everywhere is not so much anger (noisy and visible though that is) as a peculiar kind of sadness – a melancholy ...

Emotional Sushi

Ian Sansom: Tony, Nick and Simon, 9 August 2001

One for My Baby 
by Tony Parsons.
HarperCollins, 330 pp., £15.99, July 2001, 0 00 226182 0
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How to Be Good 
by Nick Hornby.
Viking, 256 pp., £16.99, May 2001, 0 670 88823 0
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Little Green Man 
by Simon Armitage.
Viking, 246 pp., £12.99, August 2001, 0 670 89442 7
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... me.’ Unless you’re a cold-hearted beast, you will. But in the morning you’ll regret it. Nick Hornby is a former teacher, as the title of his new novel might suggest. Like Parsons he is capable of great emotional directness. The narrator of the new novel thinks about her poor suffering brother: We could go home to Mum and Dad’s. We’d both ...

I’ve Got Your Number (Written on the Back of my Hand)

Jenny Turner: ‘High Fidelity’, 11 May 1995

High Fidelity 
by Nick Hornby.
Gollancz, 256 pp., £14.99, April 1995, 0 575 05748 3
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... since I was a grown-up, responded to a piece of writing so immediately either. How successful is Hornby in his construction of the character Rob? Very: I don’t go for him myself, but I’d probably approve if any of my friends wanted to go out with him, so long as he’d sorted out his unfinished business first. Does Laura’s feminine perspective make for ...


Ian Hamilton, 25 January 1996

Not Playing for Celtic: Another Paradise Lost 
by David Bennie.
Mainstream, 221 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 85158 757 8
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Achieving the Goal 
by David Platt.
Richard Cohen, 244 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 86066 017 7
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Captain’s Log: The Gary McAllister Story 
by Gary McAllister and Graham Clark.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 9781851587902
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Blue Grit: The John Brown Story 
by John Brown and Derek Watson.
Mainstream, 176 pp., £14.99, November 1995, 1 85158 822 1
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Kicking and Screaming: An Oral History of Football in England 
by Rogan Taylor and Andrew Ward.
Robson, 370 pp., £16.95, October 1995, 0 86051 912 0
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A Passion for the Game: Real Lives in Football 
by Tom Watt.
Mainstream, 316 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 1 85158 714 4
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... problem with this dual strike-force, but happily the author – David Bennie – does not say so. Nick Hornby cannot be blamed for writing of this kind, although Fever Pitch has helped to set the tone. In some ways, Hornby has links with the old school. He knows and cares that there is something ‘moronic’ about his ...

We want our Mars Bars!

Will Frears: Arsène Who?, 7 January 2021

My Life in Red and White 
by Arsène Wenger, translated by Daniel Hahn and Andrea Reece.
Weidenfeld, 352 pp., £25, October 2020, 978 1 4746 1824 3
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... until 2020. In the early 1990s, three crucial footballing events occurred: Gazza cried in Turin, Nick Hornby published Fever Pitch, and the Premier League was born. Before the 1992 election, it seemed like everything was about to change for the better. Neil Kinnock would be prime minister and football would reclaim its place at the centre of national ...

Utterly in Awe

Jenny Turner: Lynn Barber, 5 June 2014

A Curious Career 
by Lynn Barber.
Bloomsbury, 224 pp., £16.99, May 2014, 978 1 4088 3719 1
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... she died). Barber had dropped out of education and considered herself engaged when ‘in the nick of time’ she discovered that he was a con man, a thief, a racketeer – in the employ of Peter Rachman, none other – and already married with children. I learned not to trust people; I learned not to believe what they say but to watch what they do; I ...

Irving, Terry, Gary and Graham

Ian Hamilton, 22 April 1993

Behind Closed Doors 
by Irving Scholar and Mihir Bose.
Deutsch, 367 pp., £14.99, November 1992, 0 233 98824 6
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Sick as a Parrot: The Inside Story of the Spurs Fiasco 
by Chris Horrie.
Virgin, 293 pp., £4.99, August 1992, 0 86369 620 1
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Gary Lineker: Strikingly Different 
by Colin Malam.
Stanley Paul, 147 pp., £12.99, January 1993, 0 09 175424 0
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... indeed a night of shame. ‘For alarmingly large chunks of an average day, I am a moron,’ wrote Nick Hornby in his excellent Fever Pitch last year. The people who run football, run TV, know that most fans are moronic, that they will put up with just about anything that’s thrown at them provided that they are allowed to keep their fantasies ...

About the Monicas

Tessa Hadley: Anne Tyler, 18 March 2004

The Amateur Marriage 
by Anne Tyler.
Chatto, 306 pp., £16.99, January 2004, 0 7011 7734 9
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... in the novel offers to redeem that everyday catastrophe. Tyler’s work has been championed by Nick Hornby and Roddy Doyle, among others, as part of a case for the deep seriousness of domestic-realist novels, which are, it’s argued, sneerily sidelined as ‘middlebrow’ by a cultural establishment that values experimentation and philosophising ...

Aberdeen rocks

Jenny Turner: Stewart Home, 9 May 2002

69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess 
by Stewart Home.
Canongate, 182 pp., £9.99, March 2002, 9781841951829
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... you have to like it: if Home wanted his work to be likeable, he could just set about copying Nick Hornby, same as everybody else. But Home is using writing for a different purpose. Writing is power, ideology, an instrument of domination; it’s a huge, filthy, stinking machine. Yes, it’s possible – and can be rewarding in all sorts of ways ...

Seventy Years in a Filthy Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: E.S. Turner, 15 October 1998

... a history of spa-going? Or Amazing Grace, a cool look at dukes? Before there was Dava Sobel, or Nick Hornby, or Fermat’s Last Theorem or Andy McNab, there was Mr Turner, and his series of second-hand typewriters. ‘I remember a van arriving out of the blue with a fine stock of near-prehistoric machines,’ he says. ‘My father very decently bought ...

How Dare He?

Jenny Turner: Geoff Dyer, 11 June 2009

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi 
by Geoff Dyer.
Canongate, 295 pp., £12.99, April 2009, 978 1 84767 270 4
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... petered out, to be replaced by something more resigned. Dyer, perhaps, is a bit like Nick Hornby, singing for his supper, a bit too eager to be liked: Thomas Bernhard For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It; virtually fat-free modernist romances designed to fit the side-pockets of rich students’ gap-year rucksacks, in need of reading ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman, 19 March 1998

Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... the hipper glossies. On the back of more heavily puffed recyclings by other NME veterans such as Nick Kent and Julie Burchill, that brief pre-Thatcher Waterloo sunset in the IPC tower has taken on a rosy apocalyptic glow. These are not the uncorseted, feelgood ramblings of Sixties survivors (Howard Marks, Richard Neville et al), but the ...

Why am I so fucked up?

Christian Lorentzen: 37 Shades of Zadie, 8 November 2012

by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 295 pp., £18.99, August 2012, 978 0 241 14414 5
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... reported on the Oscars without mentioning any actors’ names.) All the pop stuff smacks a bit of Nick Hornby, if not Forrest Gump. But then again the modernists had no aversion to pop culture ephemera. As Hugh Kenner showed in A Sinking Island, we might not have had Ulysses without Tit-Bits. The internet turns out to be Natalie’s undoing. She takes to ...

Special Frocks

Jenny Turner: Justine Picardie, 5 January 2006

My Mother’s Wedding Dress: The Fabric of Our Lives 
by Justine Picardie.
Picador, 336 pp., £12.99, September 2005, 0 330 41306 6
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... running, or played some favourite music, loud. They might find an ex to have sudden sex with, as Nick Hornby had his hero do in High Fidelity. Different people relieve the closed-in misery of family and bereavement in different ways. On the other hand, there are literary traditions that make much of the visual and functional closeness of clothing and ...


James Wolcott: Rick Moody, 19 September 2002

The Black Veil 
by Rick Moody.
Faber, 323 pp., £16.99, August 2002, 0 571 20056 7
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... the author has ever seen, read, felt or heard on headphones is catalogued and databased (Nick Hornby with a dash of Derrida). Where graduates of the Gordon Lish ‘mini-me’ academy were often tagged as emotional anorexics and numbed-out narcissists – their sliced-thin sentences leaving a trail of stitches – maximalists like Moody follow ...

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