Re: RARA-AVIS: David Peace sports noir

Date: 15 Feb 2007

David Peace's The Damned Utd, (2006) is certainly sports noir. I loved his Red Riding Quarter of (very) James Ellroy influenced alternative histories of the North of England, and in the Damned United he brings the same approach to
(apologies to none British readers - football equals soccer) a very famous period in the life of my beloved Leeds United (who, looking at where we are now, probably are damned - Good Lord we must have sinned mightily badly). British readers who follow football will probably be aware of the story - Brian Clough, to many minds the most talented football manager (coach) ever to practise his trade in Britain, takes on a team he has loudly lambasted as cheats - and run by his antithesis, the supersticious, cynical (this is Peace's view not mine, I love The Don) possibly cheating Don Revie. I think this novel has been somewhat overpraised - particularly by one columnist who chose it as their book of the year, despite believing it related to Clough's much happier time at Nottingham Forest. It's well-researched but none of the characters seem to really come to life to my mind. It's interesting to see Peace use a style that worked fantastically well retelling crime and corruption and politics on sport. I'm not sure how well this one will go down with non-British, non-football loving readers, but if you liked his early stuff and are less immersed in Leeds United than I am (I don't think I could ever give this a really fair reading, I was immediately grabbed by the idea of one of my favourite writers tackling my favourite football club, but had a terrible knee-jerk need to defend Leeds - even in fiction!) you should probably give this a try.
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