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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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... extort. One for My Baby approaches the reader with tear-stained face, arms extended, demanding: ‘Hug me.’ Unless you’re a cold-hearted beast, you will. But in the morning you’ll regret it. NickHornby 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 ...

Diary

John Lanchester: Arsenalesque Melancholy

3 December 1992
... Horton quotes, incidentally, are from Martin Amis’s review of Among the Thugs, Bill Buford’s I-was-there book about yobbery. The funny, sad, truth-telling Fever Pitch is not that kind of book.* NickHornby 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 ...
11 May 1995
High Fidelity 
by Nick Hornby.
Gollancz, 256 pp., £14.99, April 1995, 0 575 05748 3
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... I have never seen my type of people so vividly rendered on the page before. And I have never before, 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 ...

Heart-Stopping

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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... steps and slow Through Eden took their solitary way. A ‘lack of pace’ might seem to be the problem with this dual strike-force, but happily the author – David Bennie – does not say so. NickHornby 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 ...

Utterly in Awe

Jenny Turner: Lynn Barber

4 June 2014
A Curious Career 
by Lynn Barber.
Bloomsbury, 224 pp., £16.99, May 2014, 978 1 4088 3719 1
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... also gulled, less understandably (‘Forgive me,’ she reports that her mother said to her, just before 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 ...
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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... including me) carried on wanting Liverpool to – well, not exactly crush the Eyeties, but ... It was indeed a night of shame. ‘For alarmingly large chunks of an average day, I am a moron,’ wrote NickHornby 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 ...

Seventy Years in a Filthy Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: E.S. Turner

15 October 1998
... army officers and beaks. Who but E.S. Turner could be the author of a book such as Taking the Cure, a history of spa-going? Or Amazing Grace, a cool look at dukes? Before there was Dava Sobel, or NickHornby, 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 ...

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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... business not knowing the work of Stewart Home. No one and nothing, least of all the work itself, is saying you have to like it: if Home wanted his work to be likeable, he could just set about copying NickHornby, 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 ...

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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... appropriate (well prepared for, too, by the descriptions of her driving). Her life had crashed. Nothing in the novel offers to redeem that everyday catastrophe. Tyler’s work has been championed by NickHornby 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 ...

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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... How dare he compare Hinduism to a Marvel comic, or a Disney film? After a while, though, this out-of-sheer-rage petered out, to be replaced by something more resigned. Dyer, perhaps, is a bit like NickHornby, 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 ...

Why am I so fucked up?

Christian Lorentzen: 37 Shades of Zadie

8 November 2012
NW 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 295 pp., £18.99, August 2012, 978 0 241 14414 5
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... little bit like Smith’s essay for the Sunday Telegraph, collected in Changing My Mind, in which she reported on the Oscars without mentioning any actors’ names.) All the pop stuff smacks a bit of NickHornby, 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 ...

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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... beginnings with the New Musical Express in 1977 to his present non-eminent (but legendary) status with 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 ...

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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... that, suddenly back at their mother’s house for a funeral, they had snuck out to the pub, or gone running, or played some favourite music, loud. They might find an ex to have sudden sex with, as NickHornby 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 ...

Hoogah-Boogah

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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... when he was a nervous colt in the 1980s in favour of a bachelor-guy pack-rat approach where everything the author has ever seen, read, felt or heard on headphones is catalogued and databased (NickHornby 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 ...

The Lie-World

James Wood: D.B.C. Pierre

20 November 2003
Vernon God Little 
by D.B.C. Pierre.
Faber, 279 pp., £10.99, January 2003, 0 571 21642 0
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... novels concertinaed over a summer is that novels without much plot tend to languish. Suddenly everything should be shorter, even Ian McEwan. More troubling was Professor Carey’s opinion that NickHornby’s How to Be Good is ‘a very impressive novel of ideas’, just the kind of thing the Booker should favour. Ah, that would explain the exclusion of Coetzee’s novel of ideas, Elizabeth Costello ...

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