Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

The PPA family isn't too big on the whole religion thing, so my most enduring memory is Easter Sunday in Tucson, 1996. Driving around, some guy in a pickup cut me off. I honked, gave him the finger, and he held a pistol out the window and waggled it in a gesture I took to be threatening. That did a lot to make my then-frequent road rage ebb.

#8 -- "Soccer Against the Enemy" by Simon Kuper

Another sports book?? Yes, and there may be a baseball book coming soon too. Dunno why. Perhaps it's just an effort to distract myself from the Avalanche's crapfest.

When I read (and was disappointed by) Franklin Foer's soccer book a few years back, I had no idea that the book I was anticipating already existed: a comprehensive, well-written, insightful look at how soccer and society collide. Kuper's book is just that, though. He spent a year traveling about, immersing himself in soccer culture the world over (Scotland, Africa, Eastern Europe, South America, the U.S., etc). The subtitle ("How the World's Most Popular Sport Starts and Fuels Revolutions and Keeps Dictators in Power") implies a bit more of a consistent narrative, rather than the loosely-collected trip tales, but it's a pretty great read, helped along by Kuper's dry wit and sharp mind.

One irritant, not Kuper's fault: this was originally "Football Against the Enemy" in other countries, and whoever handled the U.S. publication pretty obviously did a "replace all" with the manuscript. Problem is, some of those "footballs" needed to stay, because now the book talks about "quarterbacks in American soccer." A small thing, yeah, but as an editor, it makes my heart ache.

Regardless. Great book! Buy it!

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