Keyboard flurry | Writer’s cramp setting in for academics, Rooney

Salaam Stanley MatthewsBehind the CurtainGerman Football

London | Wayne Rooney has been tasked with writing five books over the next 12 years. The £5 million advance from HarperCollins is believed to be a record in sports publishing, although some are skeptical about the potential results. The Daily Telegraph‘s Neil Tweedie speculates that the Manchester United striker will begin with a discourse on his passion for chips and beans.

Subrata Dasgupta. Link to home page at University of Louisiana–Lafayette


Of more concern are several other titles gaining public notice, again showing that football lends itself to multiple literary genres. Soumya Bhattacharya in the Observer calls the memoir Salaam Stanley Matthews, by Subrata Dasgupta,a book around football rather than about football.” Dasgupta, 62, reflects on his displacement from Calcutta at age 6 and gradual acclimation to English life through cricket and a state of thralldom to Sir Stanley Matthews, the durable Stoke City, Blackpool and England winger (and, in The Way It Was, accomplished autobiographer) who played past age 50. Both Bhattacharya and Chitralekha Basu in an Independent review write concerning Dasgupta’s observations on Englishness and Dasgupta’s rapid identification, through sport, with Thomas Macaulay‘s assimilated foreigner—a person “Indian in blood or colour but English in taste.”

Jonathan Wilson follows the journalist’s course in Behind the Curtain: Football in Eastern Europe. Wilson, in Simon Kuper–like fashion, journeys to the stadia and training grounds in Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Russia and Romania. Henry Winter in the Daily Telegraph mentions the moving vignette of 1970s-vintage Romanian striker Florin Piturca, killed by a toxic combination of performance-enhancing drugs on the order of doctors working for Nicolae Ceausescu. Piturca’s mausoleum became a rallying point for those protesting the dictatorship, to such an extent that Ceausescu’s daughter, Zoia, ordered it bulldozed. Florin’s father, Maximilian, had slept there every night for 16 years. When the bulldozers arrived, Winter writes,

Maximilian was inside, but emerged before the roof caved in and swore revenge. “A curse on you and your family,” shouted Maximilian. “In a year I will be back and you will be dead.” Nicolae Ceausescu was executed. The grave rebuilt. And, sadly, vandalised occasionally. Local kids keep nicking the stone ball at the feet of the statue to Florin outside the mausoleum….

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