“Early in the morning factory whistle blows Man rises from bed and put son his clothes, Man takes his lunch, walks out in the morning light, It’s the wor“Early in the morning factory whistle blows Man rises from bed and put son his clothes, Man takes his lunch, walks out in the morning light, It’s the working, the working, the working life. Through the mansion of fear, through the mansions of pain……”
For some reason this book made me think of that song (Factory,) - not really a classic Motown tune- although, goodness knows, there’s precious little work going on.
I have read quite a few of the other reviews of this book conscious of the fact that one man’s distant, poetic, dystopian, basket case is another man’s back yard and I will defer to the reviews of anyone living more than an ocean closer to it than I do. I get the annoyance with the writing style (‘Guy Noir’-spot on) but I kind of like that spare, hard bitten copy. Like he skipped journalist class and watched Warner Brothers ’B’ movies all day instead.
The anecdotal stuff was mostly in line with the subject matter and fitted well, I thought , especially his brother working as a mortgage broker and then finding work in a factory. With some of the other stuff, the mercifully short chapter on a drunken row with his wife for example, well perhaps he thought that if he was going to go around pointing out everyone else’s crap he’d better point out some of his own too. There was no need.
You don’t learn a great deal about Detroit and what description of decay and loss could ever convey what a single photo of the old Packard plant does, or one of Michigan central or what miles of overgrown and empty homes show all too clearly, but what you do get is the voices of the cops and the firemen and the guy who works at the morgue and a hundred other folk and for those things alone I enjoyed it very much. I think the title is not quite correct either as there is no real instructive scrutiny and also its debateable that the patient is dead. Its in bed, sure, and friends and loved ones have gathered round exchanging fearful glances but maybe there is still a pulse. ...more
I really did want to like this and still want to read more science fiction so I’d be happy for someone (Rob..) to tell me that I’ve misunderstood it I really did want to like this and still want to read more science fiction so I’d be happy for someone (Rob..) to tell me that I’ve misunderstood it (lets not understate this…) , that its gone over my head or to say don’t read that read this, but my initial thoughts are not good.
I don’t know where to begin with how bad I thought that was. It reads less like a well-constructed novel and more like a stream of cheese on toast (that almost makes it sound good) dreamt in to a Dictaphone and then typed up. To pick almost at random; ‘They moved past dim bunkers, dark trenches, still figures, stopped trucks, sunken tanks, taped windows, hooded guns, raised poles, grey clearings, wrecked buildings and slitted lamps; all the paraphernalia of the outskirts of the headquarters camp. He watched it all and wished-as they moved closer to the centre, to the old castle that had become his home in all but name over the last couple of months- he wished that he did not have to stop, and could just go on driving through the dawn and the day and the night again forever, cleaving the finally unyielding trees towards nothing and nowhere and no-one -even if it was in an icy silence- secure in the nadir of his sufferings, perversely content that at least now they could grow no worse; just to go on and on and never have to stop and make decisions that would not wait but which might mean he would commit mistakes he could never forget and would never be forgiven for…’ (The three … dots are part of the text as if he’s saying, you know, I could go on…)
Its way also roundabouts told a in. This annoying can quite be.
The story has 3 main characters (although it’s about 3 other undrawn characters) all of whom talk in that same off hand cockiness of smart-alecky teenagers.
It’s impossibly romantic not in the “darling your sunshine makes my knees buckle” way but in that philosophically condescending mankind should be remade like me for their own good or die way. At one point the Cultures representative goes ” In all the human societies we have ever reviewed, in every case in every state, there has seldom if ever been a shortage of eager young males prepared to kill and die to preserve the security, comfort and prejudices of their elders, and what you call heroism is just an expression of this simple fact; there is never a scarcity of idiots.” By which stage the reader is left wondering who is fooling who.
The main protagonist, meanwhile, is traumatised by a chair, by some traumatic vision that happened on a chair and he feels a bit odd every time a chair hove’s into view. So while he’s tearing round the universe battling the forces of whatever, being ripped to shreds, shot at and chased the reader is constantly alert to the possibility that every room he bursts into may contain a chair. And on page 380 he goes “But he realised even as he thought about it all that he no longer really cared, “ and you think to yourself well if you don’t I’m bloody sure I don’t….
Let me share with you a brief insight into the thinking of an Arsenal supporter. At Emirates last week (v Norwich) with about ten minutes to go I coulLet me share with you a brief insight into the thinking of an Arsenal supporter. At Emirates last week (v Norwich) with about ten minutes to go I couldn’t help but overhear a couple of guys behind me talking : #1 “Where will we be in the league after this?” #2 “Well, if we win we’ll be top.”
IF we win!!! Under ten minutes to go, we were 3.1 up and would score once more….IF we win!!
And you know what? I knew exactly what he meant. We’ve experienced disappointment, of our own making so often, in so many stylishly pointless ways, going out of the champions league to Milan, Barcelona and Bayern and haemorrhaging Premier league points at the seasons close to be left empty-handed and crying bitter tears into our flat beer (so I’ve heard…).
Anyway, the book! Brilliant, fascinating. It’s not just a pro Arsenal PR job book but a serious, often critical, appraisal of the ambitions, management and personnel that have taken AFC (1994/5-2011ish) from being a conservative old boys club,(no coups, no take-overs, no buy out, no relegation) to being hopefully ready to engage and compete seriously as a world Club accessible to its fans from east to west.
The book is about how that leap was envisaged and how that vision was realised in 15 years and it begins just before the arrival of Arsene Wenger in 1996. Arsene Wenger and his revolutionary ways. The players were about to be dragged kicking and screaming into a new world. Well, they were about to have their beer taken off them anyway. Out went the fish and chips as well (seriously). In came healthy living and training. In came attention to detail, speed, technique and goals, sometimes more than 1 a game! In too came Patrick Vierra and Nicolas Anelka. The book logs the arrivals and departures well.
At the time questions were beginning to be asked and the answers to these questions would help to shape a blueprint that would change the club in every way. The questions were football questions. How do we win the league? Can we compete with M*nU spending?(this was slightly before MC & Chelsea ) Can Highbury be restructured to hold 60,000? The answers (no, mostly…) led to AFC becoming the biggest property developer in Islington, as plans, budgets and building debts came into place that would advance the club super structure but curtail on-field expenditure for a decade. It did not curtail AWs ambitions though and he made a virtue out of this necessity and there are lots of great details how: “What would you do if we gave you £100mill?” Peter hill wood, the chairman, asked his Manager. “Give it back” said the economics graduate Wenger.
The success of the project, so well told in this book, will be seen in years to come but is already apparent in the Emirates stadium itself and the teams continued presence in the PL top 4 and the CL which is testament to AW ability to succeed within the construction periods constraints.
But these are smart, ambitious people, they aim high and 4th wasn't what all this was about. You also get the impression, the very strong impression, that despite the board manoeuvrings- which is very well represented in the book-they all love the club and respect the game…..Fanciful stuff, you say? Maybe it is, but it’s great to watch and great to read about....TBC ...more
Who is Dennis Bergkamp? Ok I am broadminded enough to grasp that there are in existence people who don’t follow football-- maybe you are a Trappist monWho is Dennis Bergkamp? Ok I am broadminded enough to grasp that there are in existence people who don’t follow football-- maybe you are a Trappist monk who has let his Sky Sports package slip-- let alone the inner workings dreams and dramas of Arsenal football club. For example, during the close season, the club website posted a short video of the ground staff marking out the freshly cut pitch and I fully understand that not everyone would have watched that all the way through.
However, that not with-standing, if you were to watch the best players ever play football, you will see that they do what other players do, but like supermen ; Messi, Ronaldinho, they’re faster, more skilled, more aware, more composed. Watch DB and you suspect that he see’s the game and the ball in a slightly different light. The best example of this would be for you to go and watch the top 10 goals by either of those two mentioned and then to watch DBs 2002 goal against Newcastle. Back? Good wasn’t it.
Part of the intrigue of the DB story, a large part at the time, was that DB turned up to play football at Arsenal football club. If he’d left Milan for Spain or Juve or back to Ajax it would have followed a pattern, it would have been understandable; he would have been another outstanding Dutch footballer from the Cruyff mould. (Cruyff comes across as a bit of a megalomaniac actually. He wants to live and play with beauty and freedom and he wants everyone else to do as they re told)
But he didn’t, he walked out of the 80,000 capacity San Siro and into the 35,000 capacity Highbury. Arsenal pre DB was like, say, one of those Egyptian fishing villages 4001 years ago, the day before an Alien turned up and built the pyramids—oh don’t pretend you don’t believe that—any way he turned up and said “take me to your leader” and they said “ Dennis, you are our leader ”. He was 26.
Obviously the book has a more clearly defined narrative but essentially that’s it. Other biographies tend to be like David Copperfield, I am born, I am spotted by Barcelona scouts playing for the U12s….This doesn’t do that but breaks down DBs life, so far, into different aspects and explores each one with plenty of input and opinion from an impressive list of teammates, rivals and managers. Henry and Wenger feature.
For example you get interview with the many managers at Milan who say that the reason he didn’t fit in there was that he didn’t fit in, or something. Or you get a fascinating insight in to Dutch national nuttiness and how to implode at major tournaments and you get plenty of fraternal love from his fellow Invincibles. When you hear Ian Wright or Ray Parlour talk, even now, its like they still can’t quite believe it. Like me.
But in the end its DB and you can’t do that justice in a book, no matter how good the book is, and this one is probably as good as it gets. You have to watch say, the 89th minute goal for Holland v Argentina and his reaction to get anywhere near understanding DB. ...more