Thursday, January 04, 2007

Preeching the Peace

A book review the Ingrate may well enjoy - David Peace's The Damned United (see write up from the Absurder).

It's Peace's account of the 44 turbulent days for which Brian Howard Clough (Cloughie, old Big Mouth) was manager of Leeds United back in the '70's (Dirty, dirty Leeds). I've recently read peace's Red Riding Quartet - a story set around and between a fictionalised account of the Yorkshire Ripper (to my chagrin, after I read it I thought, well, nowt like that's happened for a few years, and then Ipswich). He also wrote a fictionalised account of the '84 Miners' Strike, GB84.

Anyway, Peace's prose style is very much of the post-modern bent - sparse internal monologues (daringly, even, written in large part in the second person). We experience a stream of consciousness from his id driven screaming, shitting, terrified and obsessed protagonists. God is very much dead, there is no meaning, and no narrative, just fragments from which the reader must wrestle meaning.

In many ways, that is the theme of The Damned United - as the ambiguous, punning title suggests - Clough believes in nothing and no-one other than Brian Howard Clough - not luck, not superstition, no God. Only Clough. Clough and football. Obsessive, drunken, monomaniacal one slip and you're gone football (literally for Clough, whose playing careering was cut short by a severe knee injury).

This is appropriate for the modern secular religion - the real sectarian divide in the UK. This is no boy's own stuff of last minute reversals, but a battle of ego and meaning in a chaotic world in which an individual is seemingly powerless - Clough's determined egoism being driven into superstition as the environment of Dirty Dirty Leeds coupled with a shaky start to the season starts to get to him. Peace's Old Big Mouth is a worth sucessor to Coriolanus. Boro lad done good.

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Anonymous Darren said...

I've seen the reviews and it would be a fascinating book to check out. (Though I do have to admit that I dipped into GB84 one time, and quickly dipped out again.)

I take it that Peace's follow up will be about Jock Stein's not so turbulent 45* days as mamager of Leeds Utd a couple of years later?

11:33 AM  
Blogger John said...

A work colleague of mine just this morning recommended this book to me and tipped me off to GB84, which I recall seeing reviewed when it came out but went nowhere near. I just got it secondhand for 3 quid online. Was it that bad, Darren?

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Darren said...


it's not that I hated it but as Bill touches upon in his post, it is a rigorous read - one of those books where I need to be sitting at a table with a notebook by my side - and it wasn't what I was up for reading at that particular time.

Perhaps I could give it another go but my copy is back in Britain. However, I do remember picking it up at the time because I so dearly wanted to read about that particular tumultuous period in recent British history and it didn't immediately engage me.

I was intrigued when I found out that Peace had written about Cloughie, but I've got a feeling that unless I've got my literary head on, I'll probably not enjoy it.

If only Beryl Bainbridge or David Nobbs wrote footie novels. ;-)

8:25 PM  

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