Tuesday, 6 March 2018

The Quiet Fan - another explanation

Faster than the speed of publishing
- Clive and his... vehicle.
As The Quiet Fan's publication date approaches with all the speed and reliability of a Sinclair C5, I'm once again having to face up to the question, "Soooo, what's the book about?" Ask any author this question and you're splitting them internally in two. One half of them is in panic, thinking, "I do not want to answer that question because I don't even really know how." And the other half is also in panic, thinking, "I have to answer this question. Because this is something I suppose that I really ought to know, having actually written it."

It's complicated, of course. No writer wants to look so superficial that they can sum up their book in one pithy sentence that will lure in a potential reader. That's the domain, we elevated scribes suppose, of trash literature and its easily satisfied readership. "A duke falls in love with a milk-maid while on his way to rescue the last existing copy of the Magna Carta from the power-mad, totalitarian Monocrats of
Brussels." It's the print equivalent of the Hollywood elevator pitch. It's also what every publisher would love you to deliver, mainly because then you've done their work and they can go for an early lunch.

It's been a long process, but the more people ask me, "What's The Quiet Fan about?" the better I can answer the question. This week Mike Woitalla of Soccer America posed it in the course of a longer interview, and I felt like the answer I gave has topped all the ones I gave last year. Here's the whole interview, but here's the relevant quote:

SA: Tell us about your new book, "The Quiet Fan," and what inspired it?
I aimed to correct the stereotypical view of the North American Soccer League as a failed league full of aging superstars in Rock n Roll Soccer, and in The Quiet Fan I want to banish the idea that all soccer fans must be passionate fanatics, the media-assigned "obsessives." To me passion is an over-rated and often spurious concept when it comes to sport. This idea that fans care about nothing in the whole world besides their team is not the way I experience soccer, and I think that applies to millions of other fans -- it's a fake concept that's come with the hype and mendacious marketing of the Premier League age.
To me, the joy of soccer, and sport in general, is its bookmark appeal -- its place as a solid, stable gauge of continuity in your life journey. So I take 12 games from throughout my life and go on a lively autobiographical trip connecting each of these games to an important time or sensation. Death, for example, is paired up with Lincoln City vs. Plymouth Argyle in 1979. Despair comes with Celtic vs. Aberdeen in the 1984 Scottish Cup final, a game I should never have been at. Love is coupled with Birmingham City vs. Crystal Palace in 1987. And so on. Despite the "big" themes, though, the book aims to primarily entertain. I try not to take myself or soccer too seriously -- not just in the book, but every day.

The Quiet Fan was published by Unbound in autumn 2018 and is here.

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