Tag Archives: Manchester United

Books Acquired Recently: England Edition

I just returned from a wonderful nine-day trip to England. One of my favorite things about England is that almost every town, no matter how small, has at least one good bookshop. I thus spent much of my free time book hunting, mostly in secondhand bookshops, which is where I made some of my favorite finds. I bought eleven books, spending a total of £62.00.

Bryson, Bill. Notes from a Small Island: Journey Through Britain. 1995. London: Black Swan, 2015.

I’ve read very little travel writing, so when someone recommended this travelogue during my trip I decided to buy it because I’ve heard good things about Bryson’s writing, but haven’t read any of his work. I tore through the book in a day after I’d purchased it. Although it is now a bit dated, it is hilarious and still helpful.

Purchased at Blackwell’s in Oxford.

—. The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island. 2015. London: Black Swan, 2016.

After finishing Notes from a Small Island, I decided to buy the sequel.

Purchased at WHSmith in Gatwick Airport, London.

Carmichael, Stokely, and Charles V. Hamilton. Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America. 1967. Harmondsworth, UK: Pelican Books, 1969.

As I have written about before, I have a fetish for Penguin paperbacks, especially old ones. The Book Cupboard in Plymouth has a large selection of them, and I purchased three there: this book (which has a blue cover to signify that it is non-fiction), Christie’s (green cover to signify that it is crime fiction), and Simenon’s (the traditional orange cover).

Charlton, Bobby, with James Lawton. My Manchester United Years: The Autobiography. 2007. London: Headline Publishing, 2008.

Bobby Charlton is the greatest English footballer ever and one of the greatest Manchester United players ever, thus I was delighted to find a used copy of his autobiography in excellent condition. I read it during the trip and it is one of the best sports autobiographies I have ever read because it is insightful both about Charlton’s personal life and the sporting events he took part in.

Purchased at Skoob Books in London.

Christie, Agatha. Murder in the Mews and Other Stories. 1937. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books, 1961.

I first read Christie’s work in elementary school when the school librarian gave me several of her books because he knew that I loved to read and wanted to encourage me to continue doing so. I haven’t read any of her books since I was a teenager, but when I saw this collection in a Penguin edition I decided to buy it. Its original price was two shillings and six pence. I paid three pounds for it.

Dahl, Tessa. Working for Love. 1988. London: Penguin Books, 1989.

I bought this book primarily because it is a Penguin paperback, but also because I was interested in seeing how Tessa Dahl’s writing matches up to her father Roald’s. I read it on the plane ride back to the U.S. and was unimpressed.

Purchased at Skoob Books in London.

Goddard, Simon. Ziggyology: A Brief History of Ziggy Stardust. London: Ebury Press, 2013.

I love David Bowie, and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is my favorite of his albums. I bought this book about his Ziggy character because I found it on sale new for only £3.00 as compared to the £9.99 cover price.

Purchased at The Works in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Hadley, Tessa. Bad Dreams and Other Stories. London: Jonathan Cape, 2017.

I have read and enjoyed some of Hadley’s stories in the New Yorker. I decided to purchase her newest collection because it is a signed copy.

Purchased at Blackwell’s in Oxford.

Palmer, Martin, Kwok Man Ho, and Joanne O’Brien. The Contemporary I Ching: A Completely New Translation of the Most Famous Oracle in the World. 1986. London: Rider & Company, 1989.

I have wanted to learn more about the I Ching since I first read Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, in which it plays a major role. I found this translation of it for a reasonable price and decided to buy it.

Purchased at The Speaking Tree in Glastonbury.

Rickards, Maurice. This is Ephemera: Collecting Printed Throwaways: Printed or Handwritten Items Produced for Short-Term Use and Generally for Disposal: A Delightful and Unique Introduction to a Fascinating Field. 1977. London: David & Charles, 1978.

I came across this intriguing little (63 pages) hardcover in the basement of a thriftshop. Its lengthy title says it all: it sounds like the nerdiest book ever, so of course I had to buy it, and I am legitimately excited to read it. It was first published in the U.S., and apparently was successful enough to justify publishing the British edition that I bought. The back cover blurb notes that Rickards “is founder and chairman of the Ephemera Society,” an organization that still exists in both the U.S. and the U.K.

Purchased at Julian House in Bath.

Simenon, Georges. Striptease. 1958. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books, 1963.

I’ve read one of Simenon’s novels, Dirty Snow, before, and enjoyed it. It was an easy decision to purchase this Penguin edition of another one of his books.

 

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Books Acquired Recently: Mostly Vacation Edition

I have acquired sixteen books over the past two weeks, most as a result from visiting various bookshops during my recent vacation to England and Scotland, which was an amazing trip! The rundown of these books is below, with the books separated into sections based on where they were bought. The sections are listed in chronological order.

Hatchard’s, London, England

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Hatchard’s is the oldest bookshop in London, having opened in 1797. It was walking distance from my hotel and it was an awe-inspiring experience to be in a space that has been used for the same purpose for over 200 years.

Clare, John. Major Works. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008.

I have been looking for a selection of Clare’s works since reading about his escape from a lunatic asylum in a book on psychogeography about a year ago. This volume has a large selection of his poetry as well as some of his prose, which is what I am most interested in.

Kureishi, Hanif. Something to Tell You. 2008. London: Faber, 2009.

Kureishi is one of my favorite British authors and thus I thought it would be appropriate to buy one of his books while I was in England.

Topping & Company, Bath, England

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This was a fantastic bookstore, my favorite on the trip. Bath is a lovely little city.

Bashō, Matsuo. The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches. Tr. Nobuyuki Yuasa. London: Penguin, 1966.

I really enjoy Bashō’s haiku, thus when I discovered this slender volume on the shelf I thought it presented a good opportunity to read some of his prose. I also like the idea of buying a book about travelling whilst travelling.

Lee, Hermione. Biography: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009.

I am considering doing some scholarship on memoir and thought this little book would be helpful for understanding some of the theoretical issues surrounding the genre.

Peter Bell Books, Edinburgh, Scotland

One of the things that impressed me about Edinburgh was its large number of bookshops–I discovered seven of them just wandering about a half-mile radius from my hotel. All but one of these (Blackwell’s below) were independent stores, tiny holes-in-the-wall. This included Peter Bell Books. Its website (linked to above: “We have been bookselling in Edinburgh since 1980, and are reliable and professional in our business dealings.”) is a good digital manifestation of the shop itself.

Spark, Muriel. The Bachelors. 1960. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963.

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I was hoping to buy an old British Penguin paperback because I love their design, and this book fit the bill. I love the little notice on the back cover letting buyers know that it “is not for sale in the U.S.A.” I paid £4.00 for it, more than its original price of three pounds and six shillings (it’s so old that they were still using shillings!).

Blackwell’s, Edinburgh, Scotland

It made me happy that all of Edinburgh’s small bookshops are able to coexist with this larger chain shop.

London, Jack. The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and Other Stories. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009.

The shop was having a two-for-one sale on Oxford World’s Classics, so this is the book that I got for free.

Zola, Émile. The Ladies’ Paradise. 1883. Tr. Brian Nelson. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008.

I have never read any of Zola’s work despite his importance to the genre of the novel. I recently read a bit about this particular book and thought its portrayal of urbanization and gender sounded interesting, so I decided to buy it.

Oxfam, York, England

Butler, Bryon. The Official Illustrated History of the FA Cup. London: Headline, 1996.

There was an Oxfam used bookshop just down the street from Yorkminster Cathedral, which is one of the sites I visited during the trip. I found this coffee table book and decided to buy it because Manchester United were playing in the FA Cup final later in the day and I thought buying it would bring them luck, and it did! It cost £3.45.

WHSmith, Gatwick Airport, London, England

Ferguson, Alex, with Michael Moritz. Leading. 2015. London: Hodder, 2016.

Despite all of the other better bookshops on the trip it was still impossible to resist a quick walk-through of the airport bookstore, and I ended up purchasing this book because it was half-price.

The Strand, New York City

On the morning after arriving back in the U.S. I stopped at the Strand, my favorite bookstore, before taking the train back to Utica.

DeLillo, Don. Zero K. New York: Scribner, 2016.

I am incredibly excited to read DeLillo’s new novel because he is one of my favorite authors. I exclaimed with delight when I saw it on one of the front tables.

Heti, Sheila. How Should a Person Be? 2012. New York: Picador, 2013.

I love Women in Clothes, the book that Heti co-edited about women’s experiences with clothing, but have never read any of her writing itself. A stack of How Should a Person Be? was on a table labelled “The Future of Fiction” and I decided it was time to check it out.

Mukherjee, Neel. The Lives of Others. 2014. New York: Norton, 2015.

I read Mukherjee’s first novel, A Life Apart, in England and loved it. I decided that I will teach it in one of my courses this coming fall, and thus that it would be helpful to read The Lives of Others sometime this summer to give me more context for his work.

Nelson, Maggie. The Argonauts. Minneapolis: Graywolf, 2015.

I read a review of this book in the New Yorker a few months back and it sounded fascinating for three reasons: it deals with queer issues, it blends genres, and, as noted above, I am thinking about doing some scholarship on the memoir genre and thought it would be helpful to read this book since it is all the rage. Nelson has also published a book about one of my favorite poets, Frank O’Hara, that sounds interesting, so she seems like a fascinating person.

Amazon.com

The Chicago Manual of Style. 16th ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2010.

I am currently working on a bibliography that I plan to submit to a journal that uses Chicago Style, which I am not familiar with, so I decided to buy this book to help with the project. I am also seriously considering switching to Chicago Style as my primary style because I am not fond of the new version of MLA style (note that I am still using the older version of MLA style to format the entries for the books in this post).

Darling, Ron, with Daniel Paisner. Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life. New York: St. Martin’s, 2016.

Like many Mets fans I am obsessed with the 1986 team and will buy any book associated with them. This book promises to offer a fascinating perspective on the team. Many people forget that Darling started game 7 (and did not pitch well, leaving trailing 3-0) because Sid Fernandez ended up being the pitching hero and there are all of the iconic images of Jesse Orosco throwing his glove into the air after the final out. Even though the Mets scored eight runs, everyone talks about how the pitching was what won the Mets the game, and I look forward to reading Darling’s analysis of why this is the case.

The last of the sixteen books is

Pashley, Jennifer. The Scamp. Portland: Tin House, 2015.

Pashley gave a reading with several other authors in Utica last night that was quite enjoyable. I have her two excellent short story collections and decided to buy her recent novel in part because I like her writing and in part because it is important to support local authors and independent presses.

 

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The New York Rangers, the Stanley Cup, and Nostalgia

The Stanley Cup Final between the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings begins tonight. I’ve been a Rangers fan since 1990, when I decided to root for them in their first-round playoff series against the Islanders. I began following the team closely during the 1991-1992 season, Mark Messier’s first with the team, as they won the President’s Trophy before being shocked by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the playoffs.

But, of course, my fondest Rangers memories are from the 1993-1994 season, which culminated with them winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1940. I was in eighth grade that year, and had several classmates who were also fans to talk about the team with. I listened to most of the games on the radio because my family did not have cable. The games were usually on 660 WFAN unless they were at the same time as a Knicks game, in which case they got bumped over to 1050. Howie Rose did play-by-play and Sal “Red Light” Messina was the color commentator. However, the one game I got to watch on television all season was game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against New Jersey, so I missed Rose’s famous “Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!” call of Stéphane Matteau’s double-overtime series winning goal live, though WFAN replayed it numerous times over the next few days. (Here is a clip of the play with Rose’s call.)

Most hockey fans are familiar with Rose’s call now, as it gets replayed every time the Rangers have a big playoff game, and it is one of the greatest North American sports announcing moments ever. But what gets forgotten, and, in hindsight, what was terribly unfair to Rose, is that the Rangers decided to let their long-time play-by-play man Marv Albert announce periods one and three of games 5 and 7 as the team tried to win the cup on home ice, with Rose doing period two. Now, Marv Albert is my favorite announcer of all time; he is the best basketball announcer of all time and is quite a good hockey announcer (much better than his younger brother Kenny, who absolutely murdered this year’s Western Conference finals for NBC). But it seems cruel to have taken this moment away from Rose, though now he’s an announcer for the Islanders, so who cares, I suppose.

But at the time, I was excited to have Albert announcing game 7. I was listening to the game in the living room on our family’s stereo, lying on the carpet, wishing I could be watching on television. The local Fox station, channel 5, tried to broker a deal with the MSG Network to show the game on free television to no avail, though they were able to show all of the post-game festivities. My most vivid memories from the game involve my favorite player, Brian Leetch, whom I had liked since his time with Team USA during the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. I remember the excitement in Albert’s voice just before Leetch opened the scoring in game 7. I knew he was going to score before he scored, and then he did score, and from that point on I knew the Rangers were going to win. I also remember Leetch throwing a hip check later on that sent one of the Canucks flying, and how excited Albert got again: you could tell that the game and the team meant a lot to him personally, which is a side of himself that he very rarely shows on air. (The hip check is at 2:40 of this video, and Leetch’s goal is at 1:05.)

My family moved away from New York a few weeks later, and though I continued to root for the Rangers, it was never the same. I couldn’t listen to the games on the radio, and had to be content to catch a game whenever the Rangers were on nationally on ESPN or Fox with that ridiculous highlighted blue puck and stupid scoreboard robots (which Fox still uses in their NFL telecasts! Unbelievable.). I would always watch the Rangers in the playoffs, but without the bond that gets built up over a long season the games never felt nearly as life-and-death as they did in ’94.

As I grew older, baseball reasserted itself as my favorite sport and soccer became a close second, and now I follow the Mets and Manchester United with the same day-to-day devotion that I used to give to the Rangers. I’ve become closer to the Rangers now than I have been in years because I live in New York again, and I get MSG so I can watch them whenever I want, but I also know that I will never love them as much as I loved them then (a horrible admission, I feel dirty all over putting it in words, but it is the truth). In reality, all of my interactions with the Rangers since the mid-1990s have been a form of nostalgia for the 1994 team, an attempt to get back to those feelings of sheer joy and wonder.

Nevertheless, as the finals begin tonight, I’ll be rooting hard for the guys in blue, red, and white, and hoping that they will create some unforgettable triumphant moments of their own. Who will be this year’s Stéphane Matteau? Which save by Henrik Lundqvist will be remembered like Mike Richter’s save of Pavel Bure’s penalty shot in game 4 of the ’94 finals? (You can see video of it here. I love John Davidson’s reaction when the penalty shot is called: “Get your cardiologist!”) And most importantly, whose smile will be as big when they lift the cup as Mark Messier’s was when he held it high in front of all those screaming fans at the Garden?

Let's go, Rangers!

Let’s go, Rangers!

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Books Acquired Recently: Sports Edition

Lions, Bernard. 1000 Football Shirts: The Colours of the Beautiful Game. 2013. New York: Universe, 2014.

One thing I love about football (i.e., soccer) are the uniforms, and I have also been obsessing about the sport even more than usual lately because of the upcoming World Cup, so when I found out about this book I bought it immediately. It is difficult to find good books here in the U.S. about soccer, so I am especially attracted to books such as this that attempt to offer comprehensive histories of various elements of the game.

I will begin reading the book this afternoon, but I must note that I am immediately skeptical of it after looking at its cover. There are 130 shirts total pictured on the front cover, back cover, and spine, but none of these are from the biggest club in the world, Manchester United. There are two Liverpool shirts, a Chelsea shirt, a Manchester City shirt, an Everton shirt, and eight shirts from MLS (including the LA Galaxy home shirt twice, along with their change strip: blatant proof of David Beckham’s continuing commercial power). I love MLS, and I like Everton because I hate Liverpool, but there is no way that any of these nine shirts are more important than Manchester United’s. This is a ridiculous omission which makes me question the biases of Lions and his publisher’s designers. I hope that the text itself meets a higher standard.

Slocum, Frank, and Red Foley. Topps Baseball Cards: The Complete Picture Collection: A 40-Year History, 1951-1990. New York: Warner, 1990.

I collected baseball cards seriously as a boy between 1987-1990, and always preferred Topps over Donruss or Fleer. While I am no longer an avid collector, I will still buy a few packs (always Topps) every once in a while for nostalgia’s sake, and I buy a Mets team set each year. As a result of this fondness for the hobby, I have had my eyes on this book for several years, and finally found a copy for a reasonable price. It is much larger than I expected, which is exciting; I can understand why it was so difficult to find a copy for less than $50.00.

Both books were acquired from amazon.com’s network of independent sellers.

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Ryan Giggs

Manchester United’s bizarre, disappointing season ended today with a 1-1 draw at Southampton. Ryan Giggs coached his last match as interim manager, and it is a good bet that his substitute appearance in the last home match earlier this week was his final one as a United player. Giggs has had a tremedous career since his debut in 1991, holding the club record for appearances and winning two European Cups and numerous league titles and domestic cups. He scored in every season of his career prior to this one.

It is difficult to write about his career simply because it was so successful; had you made up a fictional character with all of Giggs’s accomplishments before he came along no one would have found it credible. He is one of the sport’s all-time greats, and it frustrates me that he didn’t give himself the opportunity to play one last match today.

Here are two clips that epitomize Giggs’s sublime talent and his value to United:

First, his amazing solo effort to win the 1999 FA Cup semifinal against Arsenal, in which he dribbles the ball from United’s half into Arsenal’s penalty area before ending the run with a first-rate finish. This goal epitomizes the banner celebrating Giggs that hangs at Old Trafford: “Ryan Giggs: Tearing You Apart Since 1991.”

Second, highlights from the 1999 Champions League final, United’s greatest triumph, in which Giggs assisted on Teddy Sheringham’s match-tying goal.

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Books Acquired Recently

Ferguson, Alex. My Autobiography. London: Hodder, 2013.

I am a huge Manchester United fan, so of course I had to buy Sir Alex’s autobiography. It will be interesting to see what events from his 26-year reign at Old Trafford (not to mention his successful time at Aberdeen) stood out to him enough to write about. The book includes lots of photographs, which is also exciting.

Morrison, Toni. Sula. 1973. New York: Vintage, 2004.

This is a desk copy for my course on Teens and Twenty-somethings. I haven’t read Sula for about five years, and thus am very excited to interact with it again. People often view it as one of Morrison’s “easier” novels, but it is just as weird and disturbing as the others.

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Two Portrayals of Soccer Fandom

I am currently reading John King’s 1996 novel The Football Factory about soccer fan culture and its causes in 1980s/early-1990s England. I also just read Sarah Lyall’s recent New York Times article about attending English soccer matches, which I found via one of my favorite soccer websites, When Saturday Comes.

The contrast between the two pieces is striking. It is clear to any serious follower of the English game that Lyall’s piece is written by a rank outsider (which is, admittedly, in part the point, as she assumes that most of her readers will also be outsiders), and thus contains some major flaws. Aside from a smattering of factual errors (e.g., that the famous meat pies served at matches are traditionally filled with chicken rather than red meat, usually beef), there is no attempt to actually understand the culture. Instead, the article highlights its idiosyncrasies in order to demean them and the culture as a whole. It is an example of disgustingly U.S.-centric reporting.

The article is flawed in its depiction of sports fandom in general, not just soccer fandom. The usual elitist attitude toward sports that is shared by way too many otherwise rational intellectuals (i.e., the sentiment “Why waste time caring about sports? It’s just a game.” In contrast, the reason I love When Saturday Comes is that it shows that a love of sports and a life of the mind can coexist.) is present throughout the piece. For example, Lyall is puzzled by the fact that English fans often seem miserable when watching their team, but this is the case with the majority of serious fans of any sport, including Americans. It is difficult to watch a team that you desperately care about for a multitude of reasons (not just whether they win or lose) play even if they are often successful (like my beloved Manchester United) and you expect them to win. Once you understand the nuances of a sport, it is difficult not to focus on the flaws inherent in the way it is played. That doesn’t mean that the glorious moments of beauty and triumph aren’t enjoyable, but that the knowledge that they are rare leads to a sort of resigned pessimism.

Unlike the article, The Football Factory endeavors to show how soccer fandom fits within its broader societal context. The book is especially trenchant in its portrayal of how the Thatcher government’s policies destroyed the working and middle classes, and how responses to this calamity manifested themselves in soccer fandom. The novel does not celebrate troubling elements of fandom such as hooliganism, but it does offer a genuine attempt to understand them. Lyall’s article fails in this regard. It views fandom in a vacuum instead of considering how issues of class, race, and gender intersect with it.

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