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The Amateurs

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  997 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
Gary Irvine's wife refuses to sleep with him, so he pursues an even stingier mistress: golf. But despite his spending unconscionable amounts of time and money, his game is wretched. Until the day he takes a perfect swing . . . and then everything goes black.

After waking up from a coma a few weeks later, with a golf-ball-sized dent in his temple, Gary discovers that his las
ebook, 400 pages
Published April 20th 2010 by HarperCollins e-books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Apr 14, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t care about golf. At all. To badly paraphrase the late great George Carlin “imagine…hitting a ball. And then…HITTING IT AGAIN!” That’s pretty much how I feel about it.
That said, this book is hilarious. I wish I’d written it.
Gary Irvine is a horrible golfer with a cheating wife, a wannabe thug brother, and an eighteen handicap. One day, he hits an absolutely perfect shot…and at the same time is struck in the head by a golf ball. When he wakes up, he has the perfect swing, a horrible case o
Apr 30, 2015 Nigeyb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having just read, and loved, The Second Coming - Click here to read my review - I was eager to read more John Niven, and I am pleased to confirm that The Amateurs is up to the same high standard.

The usual ingredients, humour, good writing, great characters, originality and a pacy, increasingly compelling story, are all present and correct.

One review on the book’s cover makes this unlikely claim: “believe it or not, this novel makes golf look interesting” and somewhat surprisingly I have to agree
Jan 21, 2013 Martinc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To most people, golf may not be the most exciting thing to read about. That, however, should not deter anyone from reading this book. It presents a fascinating narrative with striking humor, hard-core Scottish gangsters, and Tourette syndrome.

Right off the bat, the main character, Gary Irvine, is introduced. He's just a regular Scottish guy, living in a middle-class house, with a passion for golf. The only problem is that he has the most horrible, abominable swing ever. However, he is married t
Nic Margett
Apr 13, 2014 Nic Margett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Bateman, Doyle, or Hiaasen
Let me start by saying, I'm not a fan of golf, not by a long shot. I really don't feel you have to be to enjoy this book. I think it probably helps more to understand Scottish patter and humour. This really is a funny book, I'm not usually one for laughing out loud while reading, mostly the odd snort or chuckle, but this one had me crying with laughter in parts. Add on top of that a solid story with some interesting characters and you have one brilliant book.
Jim Thornton
Well - if you want to have people looking at you, then go and read this book in public. I did and startled everyone by chortling out loud several times. I found this one of the funniest reads I've had in a long time, and would recommend it. I guess some people who are not golfers may find some elements of that a bit hard going but certainly worth putting that to one side. Some may find the language "interesting" in it, particular as the swearing is written in Scottish venacular which means non S ...more
Dec 24, 2015 Norman rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The most offensive thing about this Christopher Brookmyre rip off is not the violence, the foul language or the mind numbingly tediousness of the golf which even satire can't make interesting, it is the mining of Tourette's syndrome for cheap laughs. If the author had cracked a book or even Googled a page on TS then he would have realised that the number of Tourette's sufferers who fuckshitcuntingbawbag is a tiny fraction of the total.
It is cheap, lazy and beneath a writer that produced such exc
Mar 28, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Pour les lecteurs qui aiment qu'un livre les tienne en haleine de la première à la dernière page.
Pour les lecteurs qui aiment le golf, et aiment le golf et aiment le golf.
Pour le plaisir de la langue, celui que le lecteur éprouve à reconnaître l'accent écossais dans les dialogues (très, très drôle).
Pour ces trois raisons, le roman de John Niven est fort réussi, contient une intrigue très bien ficelée, aussi farfelu et incroyable le parcours de Gary soit-il. Imaginez, un golfeur, passionné mais t
Daniel Lee
Dec 19, 2009 Daniel Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Niven's books are a first to me and I think it left a good impression. While searching endlessly for an interesting book to read in my local library, this one caught my attention becuase, honestly, it was on the shelf of fresh books. The story is about an Irish golfer who has an eighteen handicap. Simply speaking, he gets hit by a flying 184/mph golfball on the right temple. After that, he has three conditions. A constant erection, cursing, and a perfect swing. He competes in his local town ...more
Sean Kelly
I enjoyed reading a new author (for me). The plot was reasonably entertaining: terrible golfer (I can relate) gets hit in head, becomes golf savant, plays his way to final round of British Open. There are some back-stories here also, which give the book its edgy feel (not to mention a good percentage of its profanity). I liken the style to a Scottish version of the American author Christopher Moore, but with more salty dialogue (in some instances, such as the gangsters in the novel, this seems a ...more
Aug 31, 2014 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious, and dark, shady businessmen and wee neds in Ayrshire. Crackling descriptions and dialogue -

"Lee Irvine - a real Ayrshireman, an unreconstructed product of the old school- was what his mother affectionately termed a 'plain eater'. Which is to say that he was a thirty-five-year-old man with the palate of a fussy toddler".

Some violence too - not all laughs - an excellent read

Dave Ross
Jul 06, 2016 Dave Ross rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must for rank Amateurs.

Seldom have I laughed out loud , I wouldn't entertain using a lol, this book had people in the same space staring curiously as they tried to fathom out my doubled up belly laughs. Like a west of Scotland first year hearing their first phrase including "saw bag". This is a side achingly funny read. A must for long suffering third class hackers.
Justin Tonna
Sep 05, 2013 Justin Tonna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laugh out loud funny. Beautifully crafted. Larger than life characters. And a can't put down plot that makes you feel everyone is on one mighty collision course.

The book gives us a glimpse in to the life of amateur golfer Gary Irvine. Now I don't play golf. I don't follow sport, but everything is wonderfully written it makes no difference with this book.

Niven is a very talented writer and a master of his craft. If you want to learn how to create great characters, read this book as an example.
Gilad Tiefenbrun
Jul 08, 2014 Gilad Tiefenbrun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I laughed out loud while reading this more times than any other book I've read in the past several years.

I'm glad it didn't go all weird like Kill Your Friends, and surprised that it didn't get predictable.

John Niven is a much better writer than Christopher Brookmyre, whose books I'm reading at the same time.
Patricia Olbert
While I would not consider it Niven 's best book I certainly enjoyed it a lot. It left me with the strange urge to go to the nearest driving range, some Scottish expressions I have never heard before as well as the feeling that justice can be served at the end of a John Niven book.
Nov 24, 2015 Justin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Golf really isn't my bag. However, this book is so clever and yet funny that it made me enjoy it more. Genuinely funny, underpinning a very strong plot which leads to a very predictable ending. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author. A complete stranger recommended this book and I'm very glad I listened to him.
Jan 09, 2016 Ewan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
For some reason I hadn't read John Niven's debut. Really good, it isn't often I laugh out loud at a book, but I did here on many occasions. Probably says more about me that it was mainly Gary's tourettes that did it.
Gavin Broom
Jun 04, 2013 Gavin Broom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first exposure to John Niven's work and after a slowish start, I was pretty impressed and laughed out loud several times. The world Niven's characters inhabit is pretty straightforward. There are goodies and baddies and everyone's motives are simple. All this makes this makes for a quick, easy, enjoyable read.

Gary is a regular Scottish bloke. His wife is bored with him. His brother's on the road to ruin with the local crimelords. His golf game sucks. When a freak accident out on the
Jan 05, 2016 Norman rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Even as a satirical plot device, the golf in this book is as tedious as it is in real life.
The most offensive thing about this book was not the sub-Brookmyre-esque Scottish gansgter-lit but the appropriation of Tourette's Syndrome as a humour device. Only a small fraction of those with TS fall into the fuckshitwankbollocks catagory of involuntary swearing yet Niven uses his character's suffering like an adolescent boy draws a cock and balls for cheap laughs. A shame really because Niven has prov
Sam Klemens
Sep 18, 2014 Sam Klemens rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this novel. I think Niven is awesome and so funny! I thought the story progressed nicely, it kept me interested and ended strong. The whole thing wasn't quite as funny as Kill Your Friends but still worth reading. I liked it better than The Second Coming.

Knowing nothing of golf other than I'm terrible at it, I thought this was an cool book to read. I got to learn about golf from an infuriated sportsmen perspective. It's a nice read, I recommend it.
May 24, 2014 Stargazer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Although I am enjoying Niven's books, I almost didn't read this one, just not interested in golf, but don't let that put you off, it's a cracking read.
Apr 12, 2014 Gordon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the funniest books I have ever read. I don't think you particularly need to be a golfer to enjoy it but if you are, then it is one not to miss.
Aug 14, 2011 Katrin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Never thought that golf could be so much fun! I read the book in 2 days, it was enthralling from start to finish. Set in Scotland (golf country), the story is about unlikely hero Gary Irvine, who sucks at golf, but after he gets hit by a golf ball, his golf playing is suddenly fantastic. Unfortunately, he has also developed Tourette's syndrome. At the same time, his wife wants to leave him, and his brother is becoming a full-blown criminal. It all comes together in a gripping golf tournament in ...more
Aug 14, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most enjoyable book about golf, gangsters, adultery, murder and other mischief that I have read in a long time. Very entertaining.
Dec 13, 2015 Stephanie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I wasn't able to finish this novel. I borrowed it from the library, and could only get to 21% finished with it before I had to stop. I didn't find it very interesting, and I could not find any attachment to any of the many, many characters. So when a mobster used a golf club to explode some poor dudes balls, I completely lost any interest in what happened next. Not that this novel is too violent; I grew up reading early Stephen King. But golf, and the lead characters interested me about as much ...more
Simon Thorpe
Feb 17, 2016 Simon Thorpe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the most entertaining golf novel I have ever read! Had me literally in stitches
Shane Phelan
Sep 23, 2014 Shane Phelan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, funny book - not as good as The Second Coming but worth reading nonetheless.
Derek Toolan
Jul 22, 2014 Derek Toolan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Golf. Gangsters. Tourette's. And hyper-sexuality.

What's not to like.
Stuart Airs
Jan 30, 2014 Stuart Airs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable and funny book. Laughed out loud more than a few times throughout. Plenty of dark humour, plenty of Scottish humour and plenty of golf.
Stuart Brady
Nov 18, 2015 Stuart Brady rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a funny book a great read even if you don't like golf
Patricia Marshall
Lively language funny and sad very good read
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Born in Irvine, Ayrshire, Niven read English Literature at Glasgow University, graduating in 1991 with First Class honours. For the next ten years, he worked for a variety of record companies, including London Records and Independiente. He left the music industry to write full time in 2002 and published his debut novella Music from Big Pink in 2005 (Continuum Press). The novella was optioned for t ...more
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