torsdag, oktober 16, 2014

Red or Dead


*Starred Review* A 700-page, experimental novel about the coach of an English soccer team? A limited audience pretty much guarantees this won’t be a best-seller, which is a bloody shame—it’s a magnificent literary achievement. Peace, the respected British novelist who also wrote The Damned Utd (2006), about the short, controversial tenure of Brian Clough at Leeds United (adapted into a fine film starring Michael Sheen), here tackles Bill Shankly, the legendary man who, from 1959 to1974, transformed Liverpool Football Club from an also-ran into a modern-day powerhouse. Peace’s prose is at first daunting: weaving a dense tapestry of short, declarative sentences, he builds each scene with painstaking, poetic repetition. Whole scenes are repeated with minor variation—and, needless to say, he leaves out quotation marks. (Commas are also in short supply.) But, training session by training session, and game by game (seemingly every game he managed for Liverpool), the pummeling repetition achieves a profoundly powerful effect, like an incantation, bringing to life Shankly’s relentless drive, his committed socialism, his near saintly concern for the fans—and rendering his rudderless retirement all the more poignant. Peace is clearly an admirer, and no matter which team you support, it will be hard to remain unmoved. --Keir Graff