Monday, March 24, 2008

The Hope That Kills Us

Besides bringing attention to my own work I wanted to use this blog to highlight football fiction and the worthy (and unworthy) of their place in the sub genre. I’ve already made a glancing header at a couple of really very good examples.

The one for the day is the magnificently titled The Hope That Kills Us. It’s a feckin’ belter. Here’s the official line on what it is…

'Scottish football is the weirdest of organisms, simultaneously compelling and repulsive in equal measure. The Hope That Kills Us brings together specially commissioned stories from some of Scotland's best contemporary writers. Each story examines, from its own unique viewpoint, the participants, observers, experience and emotion that feed our nation's obsession with football.

Unlike so much stuff in our worlds today, it does exactly what it says on the label. The Hope… wonderfully reflects football’s integral part in our culture. The joy, the sorrow, the nightmare’s, the humour, the misery, the people. It’s magic. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The people who put it together commissioned 8 leading lights in Scottish fiction for contributions and looked to writers groups in local communities, Uni’s and even some operating from big hooses like Glenochil to add an additional 5 - the paperback edition includes a couple of further additions.

There are too many highlights to mention here. There’s not a dud among them. Des Dillon’s emotive farmer’s tale, Heatherstone’s Question, Gordon Legge’s Hand of God Squad, an exquisite tale of what it is to follow our national team and This is My Story, This is My Song, Laura Hird’s take on the football widow’s revenge are sublime. They are not the only ones though.

I’ve cited both Billy Cornwall’s Jesus Saves and Andrew C Ferguson’s Nae Cunt Said Anything in my theoretical piece for my MA, purely because of their depiction of the game from the pitch. Ferguson’s story is a personal favourite. It’s about hard faced giant sized faeries and wishfully gifted players wasted with drink, how could it not be?

I really like the novels, Boyracers and The Incredible Adam Spark, (http://www.alanbissett.com) so I was fair pleased when Alan Bissett’s picture of the mentality of the great green ’n blue divide, A Minute’s Silence lived up to expectation. It concisely captures the best/worst of the Central Scotland (my home) mindset while beautifically underlining what it is that brings football people together and makes us love it so…

“That connection in a pass, reaching somebody across empty green space…”(pg133)

“…fitbas a mystery eh. Its aw in the glances, the breathin, the beatin ae yer heart; that’s whaur it lives. Somethin tae dae wi bein alive. Mortal. Its no scarfs and fuckin badges thats for sure.”(pg134)

Obviously being about the Old Firm, it’s about what divides us as well – the simultaneously compelling and repulsive.

Editor Adrian Searle has done such a good job of stitching it all together, it looks like a Sunday morning size 5 Mitre ready for a kickabout in the park. Well rounded, well played and well, just about the best collection of football fiction I’ve managed to get my hands on so far.

2 comments:

andy said...

Hey, big guy!

Thanks for the namecheck in your blog, which I picked up when googling mentions of my own name (I know, what a ego-driven muppet, eh?)

Anyway, you might be interested to know I followed up Nae C*nt with two further stories, which will be coming out in a chapbook from Writers' Bloc around Halloween - www.writers-bloc.org.uk - hopefully with a foreword by Pat Nevin.

Tickled that my foul Fife fairies can feature in academic treatises - you've made my day!

Cheers

Andrew
www.myspace.com/andrewcferguson

andy said...

...and at long last it is coming out, at the end of this month. One of the other stories is the likesay sequel to Nae Cunt, which follows Goagsy's move into football management...and yet another ill-fated world cup campaign, even with the fairies' help...