Monday, August 28, 2006

Worth a thousand words ...

Benoît Heimermann
foot: les 100 photos
EPA-Hachette Livre, 2002
ISBN 285-120581-1. (€37.90)

Julian Barnes is an avid sports enthusiast. He has written about sports of endurance (cycling), accuracy (snooker/golf), and mental fortitude (chess), all with equal interest and respect. Not suprisingly, football, the sport of choice in Barnes's writing, combines all of these characteristics with the qualities of passion and emotion.

Barnes's third novel written as Dan Kavanagh (Putting the Boot In, 1985) centers on the third division football club 'Athletic' and the mystery behind its slow slide down the League tables. The finest of the four Duffy novels, Barnes's portrayal of Duffy's noble attempt to play goalie is one of the finest bits of sports writing to be found.

Given Barnes's appreciation for the sport, his contribution to Heimermann's foot: les 100 photos is not surprising. The book isn't something to be purchased exclusively for Barnes's short paragraph (p. 98), as fine as it may be, or for the countless other contributions compiled in its pages, but for the images that reveal the true nature of football -- passion, elation, glory, disbelief, destruction, bloody injury -- on the faces of its players and spectators alike. This book is all the explaination one needs to understand the beauty of the sport.

-- Ryan Roberts, November 2002

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