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The Amateurs

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  651 ratings  ·  63 reviews
GARY is a sweet and decent man. Only two things would improve his life - having children with his gorgeous wife Pauline, and a lower golf handicap. Both are unlikely.

PAULINE is wondering how she ended up living in an ugly little house, driving a second-hand car and making a living dressing up as Tinkerbell. She's planning to leave Gary for a self-made carpet millionaire.

Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2009)
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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
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
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
Nic Margett
Apr 13, 2014 Nic Margett rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
Hilarious. It starts off way slower than Kill Your Friends as the story takes a while to build. It even gets confusing, characters are introcuded rather wildly and there's no real story to get into. The descriptions of golf history can get a bit longish if you're no semi-pro golfer. But, once the story emerges, it's just one brilliant read. Much less provocative than Kill Your Friends, the Scottish accent still gives it a rough, coarse touch. I laughed out loud time and again, it's just funny, e ...more
Daniel Lee
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
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

Justin Tonna
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
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.
Do they call chick lit for guys "dick lit"? Well, that's what this is. It was an easy read, and it was fun because of the Scottish accent spelled out, but it was predictable and the kind of thing that I know my husband will enjoy way more than I did.
Vielleicht können nur Golfer, die wissen, wie nahe Ekstase und Verzweiflung auf dem Golfplatz liegen, die Leiden des Helden nachvollziehen. Punkten kann Nivens Sportroman auf jeden Fall mit einer Menge britischem Humor. Jedoch sind Grundkenntnisse der Golfregeln- und begriffe sehr von Vorteil.
Kerrie Carlisle
Never have I been so interested in Golf to be honest I have never even thought about having an interest in golf but The Amateurs is perfect the characters are very well written and vivid I love it so much did want it to end
Gavin Broom
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
Sam Klemens
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.
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.
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.
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
Most enjoyable book about golf, gangsters, adultery, murder and other mischief that I have read in a long time. Very entertaining.
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
Shane Phelan
Good, funny book - not as good as The Second Coming but worth reading nonetheless.
Derek Toolan
Golf. Gangsters. Tourette's. And hyper-sexuality.

What's not to like.
Stuart Airs
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.
A good fun, quick book to read. Although it might it might take longer if you struggle with the Ayrshire dialect in places, I finished it on one train journey. The satire isn't as cutting as Brookmyre but Irvine keeps the pace of play rattling along nicely by weaving several subplots together and cutting between them to build tension.

I hadn't read anything else by John Nice and picked this mainly based on the subject of golf, and the reviews on Amazon. Will be looking out for more of his work n
Golf ist trotzdem noch langweilig
Sebastian Hallmann
Erfrischend anders! Hat sich gelohnt.
So I don't know fuck about golf, and most of the plot happens in the last third of the book, but the dialouge is written in a Scottish accent and the last two chapters had me laughing very hard.
Ger Bothmer
Je zou bijna gaan golfen. Geweldig boek!
This was quite the story. Multiple story lines going on, but it never felt busy or watered down. The weaving of golf, familial issues, relationship problems, and crime all tied together with wit and humor provided for a quick read. I picked it up at the resort's book corner in the afternoon on the 28th and finished it late night on the 29th. I hadn't read a book this quickly in quite some time.
Slávek Rydval
It took me some time to start this book. Golf is something I don't give a damn and it is considered as a activity for posh, snobbish managers in my country. How silly I was. John Niven wrote Gary's story in very his style: simply excellent. He made me burst into laughter pretty often and I saw Gary's devotion to golf very similar to my own devotion to cycling. Don't wait and just read it.
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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
More about John Niven...
Kill Your Friends The Second Coming Straight White Male Cold Hands Music from Big Pink

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