22 April, 2013

Playing with Early Reviewers'

Tim Forbes

A month and a half since i’ve finished a book! Surely a record for me ~ and not one i would care to surpass ever again.

This was an Early Reviewers’ book, and one which i enjoyed, albeit not one i probably would have picked up of mine own accord. Sports is not something which particularly interests me, to participate in, to watch, or to read about. I can, obviously, do all three, and have done, in the past: Most especially playing at school or, less frequently, with friends (football, rugby, cricket, hockey, softball, among others) and watching ice hockey in Canada. Usually it is merely chance, though, that brings me a book on sport, and that chance this time has done me a favour, as Forbes is quite interesting in his quest to spend a year watching different sports.

He is a man of about the same age as me, who has a mid-life crisis by way of suddenly realising that his chosen field of labour ~ specifically chosen for its pleasure potential, as he left finance to work in golf tournament promotion ~ no longer holds joy for him; he begins to wonder if he has the capacity to enjoy sport, any sport, any more, or if working in it has drained it for him. Similar, i suppose, to what might happen if i had left retail to work in publishing then, after some years, discovered i no longer read nor missed it. This quest which he gives himself, watching 100 games in fifty sports in a year, is his attempt to discover if he has entirely lost the enjoyment ability, or if he can recapture it.

For much of the year, it seems, his quest is not very successful, as he is shown over and over that professional sports has little to offer, and is intent on making money in any way it possibly can. This he calls the Monster. Apparently later in the year, however, certainly later in the book, Forbes starts to undergo a change, driven by the sports he is compelled to watch in order to complete the quest under the original terms ~ there not being fifty professional sports available to watch he has to go to some lengths to find amateur games and finds some he had never run across before. During this latter portion, he is given several experiences which renew his faith in sport, cover or remove the bad taste left by the Monster, and help him to understand that those who participate in a sport purely for the love of it have a great advantage over those who have other motivations. In the end the moral is fairly predictable, not entirely believable, but worth the time put in to it.

I have some reservations about the book, partly Forbes' style (which is perhaps a little overly humorous and casual for my taste), as well as quirks of the digitalisation which left the second of every double “f” capitalised (you have no idea how tired i got of reading “ofF” or variations thereof), and put in paragraph breaks where none were needed or expected. I'm not certain i'd read another based purely on Forbes' name ~ perhaps if it were a subject i wanted to learn more about, which would leave most sports out ~ so i cannot sincerely call the book a success by my criterion. On the other hand, certainly not a complete failure, either, as many of his descriptions of events, places, and people, are well done (by no means did i intend to imply above that his style is appalling, just not entirely to my taste), and he is clearly knowledgeable about his subject.

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