The story of a modern luxury. Self-indulgent. Trivial. What we are. Is Poetry A Sport? is written in a uniquely engaging way, combining the usual lorry load of prose with several handfuls of poems (don’t worry they’re mostly very short). Read it. Have a think about life. Then maybe do something about yours. Stick or twist. But more important, make sure you appreciate it.
Tom Gardner’s 42. He hasn’t yet worked out what he really wants to do when he grows up. Even with a successful career and wonderful marriage, he’s still not at all sure what he’s supposed to be doing. Yet all he wants to know is how to live an enjoyable, worthwhile life. Grab his chance. Be happy. It can’t be that hard.
Somewhat ironically – given his disdain for all things about the game – by creating a football advertising campaign he discovers poetry. And comes to believe it may be the starting point for something that will genuinely satisfy him – the missing piece of his life.
Inspired by the work of Roger McGough, Tom hits a hot streak. He gets published in national newspapers, reads his work to live audiences, appears on national radio with his hero and eventually gives up his job to pursue his dream. He’s feted as the football poet… writes a manifesto… has it all in his hands.
But things are never that straightforward. He flies close to the sun, leans on promises and ultimately discovers the truth about his good fortune. Tom begins to appreciate how happy he’s been and how lucky he is. But is it too little too late? What’s left for him, now he may finally be growing up?
“ It’s ten times better than most unagented manuscripts I look at, but I don’t feel it’s quite special enough for me to want to take it on… The stuff that does work well, I think, is the poetry – surprising because it’s hard to make creative work convincing in fiction, but I really did believe he might have written those McGough-like poems.” Tony Lacey, Penguin
“I really enjoyed this book. It’s an originaI and distinctly modern tale that probes the universal question, “what the hell am I going to do with my life?” If you’ve frequently pondered this very thought on the Tube to work or whilst being stuck on the M1, this one’s definitely for you. Based in Manchester, the book captures the vicissitudes, irritations and vanity of working life in a ‘creative business’, with honest insight and cutting satire. The narrator is passionate and self-doubting with healthy dose of Northern integrity and wit. Poetry and football play their part, but only to give the central character the chance to scramble his way out of a life of frustration. The consequences are unexpected, rich and dark, resolved in a final 50 pages which I read in a blur. A great debut, packed with smart ideas and subtle observations.” Simon Ransley
“In summary I really enjoyed this book. It is well written, the narrative strong and convincing. It is impossible for us to say whether we feel a book will be published or not, but I feel it is certainly of publishable quality.
Technically, this was one of the more straightforward books I have edited in the last couple of years. There were very few issues, and those that did present themselves will be easy to correct. The short staccato style breaks a few rules, but I never attempted to change this since I suspect it is playing with the nature of prose and its intersection with poetry.” Gary Smailes bubblecow.co.uk
For more information on Nigel Wood visit his blog