Crio’s Q? Book reviews please, or at least some recommendations.

Crio’s Q? this week endorses a plea from Barry Nicholls (http://www.footyalmanac.com.au/an-ashes-summer-a-book-and-a-challenge/ ) for more Book Reviews on this site.

I know the Editors will respond by reopening a dedicated link if Almanackers answer the call.

As you settle back in to the working year, reflect on some of the memorable (or otherwise) reads and share some observations and pointers.

I’ve just finished “Blood Horses”, recommended to me by Litza at the All Nations on “launch night”. It is one of those “unclassifiables” where you battle to find someone who you hope can also marvel at the combination of history, sport and family. I’ll let Craig do it justice,

Barry mentions Duncan Hamilton’s biography on George Best as “brilliant on just about every level, the best book of 2013 by a country mile”.

All that summertime reading demands some recommendations and some pledges for content

More please.

Comments

  1. Barry Nicholls says:

    Good luck Crio

    anyone read this one?

    Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile by Nate Jackson

  2. cowshedend says:

    Crio, good old Mic Rees gave me the ‘fictional’ Bill Shankly tale ‘Red or Dead’ by ‘The Damned United’ author David Peace.
    It is a meticulous 700 odd page ode to the master Liverpool Gaffer.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Blurb from the next book on my pile

    “Bitterness, ugly scenes and personal enmities marred what should have been one of the finest Test Series ever played. Accusations and allegations flew on either side.

    Now one of the greatest cricketing all-rounders gives his inside view of the Series, telling with the honesty of a true sportsman what really happened on and off the pitch”

    As found hidden in the bowels of the Bentleigh Red Cross op-shop for $0.50 last week, I am referring to King Cricket, Gary Sobers’ (as told to Alan Bestic) account of the 1966 Test Series between England and the West Indies (and not a rushed release of Watto’s 2013/14 Ashes Diary)

  4. Cowshedend, what was the book you pumped the other week?

  5. cowshedend says:

    Was it the Laurie Nash biography?

  6. Yep. Title/ Author etc?

  7. cowshedend says:

    ‘The Great Laurie Nash’ by Edward Albert Wallish, if you haven’t read Darby McCarthy ‘Against All Odds’ it’s oneof the better racing books, nothing better than the admissions of a flawed genius.

  8. Hi Crio and Hi Barry,
    I like this idea of setting up a spot for book reviews.
    Though neither a sporting book nor a recent release, I’ll weigh in here with my most recently completed book. This week I finished Illywhacker by Peter Carey (1985).
    I may be barking up the wrong tree here.
    A real beauty of nonsensical, believable, outlandish, understandable epic story-telling across a couple of Australian generations. Told from the perspective of Herbert Badgery, illywhacker.
    Here’s a passage. Herbert has been shacking up with Leah and they’ve been doing the carnival circuit around regional Victoria for cash. Leah is actually married to Izzie; though she left him in Sydney while she set off to raise money. Periodically she is shocked to find herself sharing a life and a bed with Herbert Badgery, though she knows she loves him. Yet, agitated one particular day, she decides to return by train to Izzie.
    “She was surprised to be on that train. Like a child who imagines herself locked in her room and then finds the door not locked at all, she stood uncertainly in the corridor, wondering if she would not, after all, be better to stay in her room with her dolls and her books.
    “She had not expected to be let go so easily. She had, of course, announced her intention firmly, and then, to her surprise, found no one to question her. She had expected Herbert Badgery to fight her fiercely. Herbert Badgery, however, had not known this, nor had he guessed as she had, that once she did offer her services to Izzie it would not be easy to relinquish them. Later, when Herbert understood that his silence was based on a wrong assumption, he much regretted that he had not protested.
    “Not a simple regret either, it turned and turned, as endless as a corkscrew in his heart.” p350.

  9. Mickey Randall says:

    Beyond the Footy Almanac I have not read anything on sport for a while. Martin Amis’ Lionel Asbo is poor. He’s a brilliant writer, but yet again has had nothing worthwhile to say. This novel is a satire of England’s criminal classes, and as such, it is easy prey. Amis’ talent is often wasted on the trite content he selects.
    Tim Winton’s Eyrie is compelling. He’s exploring familiar ground- Western Australia’s unique physical, social and political landscape, disaffected and dislocated men, marginalised women. The main character Tom Keely is less convincing than other Winton males, as he seems like an amalgam of traits rather than a real person, but the author’s language, hope and humour again ensure a good read.
    I have a book coming from the Book Depository (or Suppository as PM Abbott might have it) by Bill Janovitz called The Rolling Stones- Exile on Main St in which he discusses each song on my favourite album. It should be excellent. I best read some Gideon Haigh too!

  10. Crio

    ‘Blood Horses’ is indeed difficult to classify.

    Barry, ‘Slow Getting Up’ is on my to read list… sounds like a great read.

  11. Just finished “Girt”. Very funny and easy the read quickly. Its the unauthorised history of Australia.

  12. Neil Anderson says:

    One from the Christmas pile which combines my interest in history and sport is ‘ The Sportsmen of Changi ‘ by Kevin Blackburn. From the flyleaf:
    ” Japanese World War 11 POW camps conjure up a notorious picture of deprivation and brutality. The idea that sport, of all things, flourished in such hellish conditions is hard to envisage—but the truth is, it did.”
    And something a lot lighter from one of my favourite writers William McInnes ( not just because he’s a Bulldog supporter and his story is set in Yarraville near where he lives and I used to live )
    It’s called ” Cricket Kings ” written in 2006. The back cover says, ” Chris Andersen loves cricket. He may not be a legend like Waugh or Bradman but in the Yarraville West Fourths, Chris Andersen is king. He is the captain, the coach, the manager and, thankfully, a player. They are getting hard to find…players. “

  13. Dips, I found the humour in ‘Girt’ too often to be a bit forced and the author played for laughs when he didn’t need to.

  14. 1. Was recommended Dirt Music by Tim Winton. I hadn’t read any Winton before and felt as though I was expeted to love him. The first half is brilliant, parts of the seond half disappear up its own rear end at times and I brushed over some chapters that were purely descriptive. I feel ignorant saying it was just OK, as I get the impression I am suppossed to swoon over it. No doubt it’s quality writing and his descriptions and dialogue parts, expcially in a monosyllabic environmenti n WA are really good. I imagine if you are a Winton fan, you’ll say it was classic Winton, if not, a good book that left me a tiny bit flat.
    2. Uncertain Corridors by Gideon Haigh. This collection of various late 2012 and early 2013 pieces from various parts are excellent, expecially read now in teh context of Australia’s form reversal, the rise of teh BBL on free to air and teh ICC issues led by teh BCCI, all of which get a look in, but twelve montsh ago. As ever, Haigh’s turn of phrase is matched only by his inside knowledge and investigative journalism roots, very very good.
    3. Let’s not forget one of our own, Peter Z, self published a book on his character Viv Tuffnell, which includes some of his Almanac pieces at the end as well. (I still love the piece about junior football umpiring and awarding three votes for a lousy game once). I love Peter’s articles and also like him as a friend, so he won’t mind I hope if I say that his book, like T Bone and his opinions himself, will divide readers. However, (not for patronising reasons of supporting a fellow Almanacker), it is a good book, written as the character speaks, full of insights into Shield cricket that are great to hear.

  15. (now using spell check!)
    1. Was recommended Dirt Music by Tim Winton. I hadn’t read any Winton before and felt as though I was expected to love him. The first half is brilliant, parts of the second half disappear up its own rear end at times and I brushed over some chapters that were purely descriptive. I feel ignorant saying it was just OK, as I get the impression I am supposed to swoon over it. No doubt it’s quality writing and his descriptions and dialogue parts, expcially in a monosyllabic environment in WA are really good. I imagine if you are a Winton fan, you’ll say it was classic Winton, if not, a good book that left me a tiny bit flat.
    2. Uncertain Corridors by Gideon Haigh. This collection of various late 2012 and early 2013 pieces from various parts are excellent, especially read now in the context of Australia’s form reversal, the rise of the BBL on free to air and the ICC issues led by the BCCI, all of which get a look in, but twelve months ago. As ever, Haigh’s turn of phrase is matched only by his inside knowledge and investigative journalism roots, very very good.
    3. Let’s not forget one of our own, Peter Z, self published a book on his character Viv Tuffnell, which includes some of his Almanac pieces at the end as well. (I still love the piece about junior football umpiring and awarding three votes for a lousy game once). I love Peter’s articles and also like him as a friend, so he won’t mind I hope if I say that his book, like T Bone and his opinions himself, will divide readers. However, (not for patronising reasons of supporting a fellow Almanacker), it is a good book, written as the character speaks, full of insights into Shield cricket that are great to hear.

  16. There are no rules. Like away. Dislike away. The notion of feeling I have missed something because I don’t like it when so many others do is a nonsense. I cannot have Tolkein (and that first movie was unwatchable).

  17. Barry Nicholls says:

    Joe Bageants Deer Hunting with Jesus

  18. Barry Nicholls says:

    Seeing the boundary has been extended Joe Bageants Deer Hunting with Jesus

  19. Been out for a while, but “The Great Fletch” by Hugh Lunn is well worth the time. A book about Ken Fletcher, a Brisbane tennis player in the 1960′s. Very amusing is the way Ken ranked/rated his friends. Hugh Lunn is a great writer and I found this book well written and it delivers that dry northern humour with a good yarn attached.

  20. I highly recommend ‘The Hurt Business’, an excellent anthology of American boxing writers. Stories ranges from the 1911 Jack Johnson fight right through to the early 2000′s. It was previously published under the title ‘At the Fights.’

    Even if the sweet science isn’t your bag the sheer variety of styles and viewpoints should provide some inspiration for those Almanac articles! The articles are short enough not to outstay their welcome and there’s good author bio’s listing some of their other works.

    I was also given ‘GOAT’ (Greatest of all time) a monster slab of a tome about Muhammad Ali as birthday present. Less coffee table book and more coffee table.

    On a non-sports related note I’m also reading ‘The Long Embrace’, an interesting book about Raymond Chandler (the creator of Philip Marlowe) and his wife. Part biography, part history of Los Angeles, part musings on Chandler’s works.

  21. Litza – yes fair call. I admit it did wear thin on occasions. But most of it was quite refreshing; particularly for a history book.

  22. Earl O'Neill says:

    I’m reading ‘Crazy Horse’ and Custer: The Parallel Live Of Two American Warriors’, Stephen Ambrose, 1975. Interesting to ruminate upon the warrior creed in Superbowl Week.
    Nick Hasted’s Kinks bio has been put aside temporarily whillst I re-acquaint myself in depth with Kinks records. Ray and Dave would blow gigs so they could go watch Arsenal.
    Dipping into a collection of Dashiell Hammett short stories every now and then. No sporting references found so far.

  23. ‘At the Fights’ is excellent – worth it for Remnick’s piece on Tyson alone.

    For Australian sporting biographies, i still cannot go past MP: The Life Of Michael Peterson by Sean Doherty. So good, Malcolm Knox “borrowed heavily” from it for his book ‘The Life’.

  24. Just finished ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’ by Richard Flanagan, which I got for Christmas.

    A stunning read, it deals with the appalling situation in which many thousands of POW’s and tens of thousands of others from local communities found themselves during the construction of the Thai-Burma railway during WW2. The main Australian character is an immensely brave, but flawed, doctor along the lines of a famous person we’ve all heard of.

    Scenes of tender kindness are placed alongside others of shocking brutality. Flanagan even manages to get inside the mindset, and motivation, of some of the Japanese captors and a Korean guard.

    It’s not all doom and gloom though, with many uplifting moments. There’s even a footy scene early in the book which helps us gain some understanding of the main character’s approach to life.

    Highly recommended. I wonder if any other Almanackers have read it? i’d love to hear your opinion.

    Cheers, Burkie

  25. Bob Morrow says:

    ” The Summer Game ” by Gideon Haigh. Cricket in Australia in the1950 s & 60s. Enlightening , entertaining & sometimes unbelievable. A MUST READ !

  26. Rick Kane says:

    Last year I finally read The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, by Miguel de Cervantes. It is now the best novel I have read and it will take something of great might to knock it off its pedestal.

    There was hardly a page I read that I wasn’t falling about laughing, nodding at the poor judgement of its two main protagonists in knowing sympathy and drawing a breath at some simple yet profound observation. And the book (both parts, second part better than the first) is about 800 pages (in the old measurement). It is also the first book I read on a tablet (and that won me over as well).

    Don Quixote also introduced me to hundreds of new expressions such as “society of thieves and scapegraces”, calumniated by malice”, “condensed in the compass of a few words”, “a stout heart breaks bad luck”, “valour that trenches upon temerity savours rather of madness than of courage”, lawless desires”, “contumacy”, “learning without virtue is a pearl on a dunghill” and so on.

    Do yerself a favour!

  27. The Game by Ken Dryden provides a great insight into the world of the professional athlete and while written 30 years ago provides some good observations into some of the issues faced by the AFL today.

  28. Mickey Randall says:

    Rick- Don Quixote has been on my list for a long time. You’ve given me another reason to finally get a copy and read it.
    Joyce’s Ulysses took me about three attempts over twenty years but I finally got there. The sections on horse-racing, pubs and sex I understood. Not sure about some of the rest!
    Thanks for the tip!

  29. on revisiting old classics – I recently reread Catch22. still sadly, hilariously relevant.

  30. Rick Kane says:

    No worries Mr Randall, and in keeping with this site’s sporting pulse, I should mention Rocinante, Don Quixote’s (not so) trusty steed, who is himself a character and a sport.

  31. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    I came by Peter Temple relatively recently. The local references (esp in the Jack Irish series) are well received, but the plots to me ,are a bit paint by numbers in some of his other stuff.

    But my problem is I don’t have a well honed way of responding or critically analysing what I read. I just know what I’m interested in, and I know what topics I enjoy. I can say that something was a “ripper read” but can’t articulate why.

    A bit like music, I know how I feel after listening to something, can’t find the words to explain why. I should have done English in Matric instead of Physics.

    Oh, Cormac McCarthy is quite good too, just don’t ask me to explain why.

    So is William McInnes, agree with what was said about Cricket Kings, but his other personal reminiscences are worth seeking out.

    And I’ve learnt a few things from Clint Heylin’s “All The Madmen” re the common theme of mental illness as it relates to the likes of Syd Barrett, Pete Green, Nick Drake, Ray Davies, and David Bowie.

  32. Glen Potter says:

    This summer holiday I took in three books:
    * Michael Clarke’s The Ashes – ho hum. I discovered speed reading. Which probably sounds harsh, but I did know the story and I didn’t like the ending!
    * Ponting: at the close of play – I love Ponting’s honesty and simplicity, which left me with the feeling that it juxtaposed Clarke’s text. But at around 650 pages before you hit the statistics, it takes it’s toll.
    * Heart of Darkness – The horror! The horror! Revisited this just to get away from a sports bio. Could I pare this back to reveal obscure cricketing parallels? Did Ponting and Clarke’s unveiling of the Argus Report reveal the madness at Australia’s core? We’re our first XI being strangled by a Kurtz-like protagonist? I’m afraid not. But it’s funny what goes through your head when you back up reading different books.
    Glen

  33. I started on Leigh Matthews’ “Accept the Challenge”. Unfortunately I couldn’t and I put it down half-way through :-(

  34. DBalassone says:

    I echo Sean re ‘Dirt Music’, first 200 pages great, last 300 pages dragged on & didn’t do it for me either. Loved ‘Heart of Darkness’ Glen. Rick, thanks for the recommendation re ‘Don Quixote’ – will have to tackle it one day. Mickey, have tried ‘Ulysses’ a few times and never got past page 10, so I admire your g & d.

    If anyone wants a break from the Herald-sun rubbish and wants a non-sport, stress-free light read, with the odd bout of hilarity, I recommended Wodehouse and any of the innumerable Jeeves & Wooster books – start with ‘The Inimitable Jeeves’ – you won’t regret it.

  35. P.G. Wodehouse is golden.
    I also, from a quirky perspective, enjoyed all of Kinky Friedman’s books.

  36. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Michael Lewis – don’t be put off by the idea of the movie, the key to The Blind Side book is its seldom seen tagline – Evolution of a Game.

    If you’ve got the interest (or the stomach) for finance, he’s got that covered too.

  37. Mark 'Swish, no I'm not watching the T20' Schwerdt says:

    And the award for the most treasured possession on my bookshelf goes to

    “Poms to Premiers – History of the Central District Football Club 1959-2009″

    The authors Robert Laidlaw and Robin Mulholland have produced an astoundingly detailed social and sporting history that I will treasure forever.

    Admittedly I am looking through Red, White and Blue eyes, but to see the memories of the early decades of my lifetime brought back to life is priceless.

    Not to mention the special edition of the BM fanzine that accompanied my copy.

    I’d commend this book to anyone with even a passing interest in the SANFL during the period covered by the book, especially the period 1959-1980.

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