Sunday, 27 June 2010

#41 The Beautiful Game: A Wag's Tale, by Claire Challis and Fabulous (Headline Review)

After my scathing review of Divorced and Deadly, the Friend of the Wench joked that I should read more 'bad books'. As ever, I'm happy to oblige...

My god, The Beautiful Game: A Wag's Tale is dreadful. The World Cup is in full flow at present, and I thought it would be fun, particularly while on holiday, to read a throwaway 'beach book' upon which I wouldn't have to expend much thought. After all, I'd just finished an Oscar Wilde novel.

How foolish I was. On a superficial level, you can laugh at - and come close to enjoying - the Beautiful Game: A Wag's Tale, but every sentence you read feels like your brain cells are being stripped away. Put that on the front cover.

Supposedly the inside story of life as a WAG (wife and girlfriend) of a Premier League footballer, The Beautiful Game is no expose. Written with the help of Fabulous ('the pseudonym of an ex-WAG', so we're told), who is presumably on hand to bring some insight and reality to the proceedings, it's a tale of excess on every page. From the series of escapades by a bunch of young men with plenty of fame and money, to their partners who fill their time with lunching, shopping, partying and moaning about their menfolk, no one comes out of it with any credit.

My over-riding feeling at the end of the book was one of boredom. Who cares? If people behave as this book alleges (and I've no doubt little imagination was required), and those closest to them are unable to criticise their behaviour because they are so dependent on them (for money, for the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed), in the end, who really cares?

That would be the end of this review were it not for a frankly unbelievable introduction, part of which follows: "The Beautiful Game is a fictional account of the lives of four imaginary WAGs, and all the characters in the story are wholly fictitious. No character, football club or event should be understood to refer to any real person, football club or incident and any similarities to any living person is (sic) entirely coincidental."

This is simply ridiculous. If you're going to write a so-called expose, at least have the bollocks (sorry) to follow it through. I mean, just to give one example, if the story regarding dogging isn't 'inspired' by Stan Collymore, John Terry can have the Wench's phone number with my blessing...

Furthermore (and I can't let this pass), everything you need to know about the book is evident from the acknowledgements of author Claire Challis, who, while thanking her agent and editor, gushes: "I think we can safely say we've got speed-novelling down to a fine art. High five!"

In my eyes, this is no reason for jubilation or self-congratulation, and in support of this position I offer just one example. Early on, the word 'career' appears in a sentence which makes absolutely no sense - unless the word was meant to be area (and I gave this matter more thought than I gave the rest of the book). I can only think that maybe it was misheard when some notes were being typed up - and everyone was so busy 'speed-novelling' they didn't notice…

So, rating time:

#41 The Beautiful Game, by Claire Challis and Fabulous (Headline Review) - 3/10

Next up: Tokyo Year Zero, by David Peace (Faber and Faber Limited)

  • Click here for the full list of books so far, and their rating
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