Ms .45's mp3/bureaucratic/gaming blog.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Shut Up - The Footy's On The Radio

Despite the title, I am in fact posting something not TISM related.

Book Review:
Players, Tony Wilson

I've despaired recently of finding good, readable trash. Being a student, I haven't read a novel for pure pleasure in almost literally years (I certainly can't remember the last time I completed one), and in between the International Relations reading brick and Introduction to Development Economics, I really want to read something that doesn't tax my brain too much. The problem is that writers, readers and publishers don't seem to be able to identify what George Orwell called the Good Bad Book – the book with no claim to dealing with The Great Issues Of The Day or a unique artistic prose style, but which has characters you could give a frot about and moves along at the proverbial "cracking pace", which will enable you to finish it in a few hours in between the 2500 words about the impact of the Accord on industrial relations and the 3000 words on conditions leading to the adoption of full suffrage throughout the Commonwealth.

Most trashy books (whether labeled 'chick-lit' or not) are shit. Not because they deal with shopping and fucking – Jane Austen has made a two-century career out of shopping and, er, courting – but because ultimately you don't give a shit whether the 5,374th plucky, feisty, pleasantly plump and socially awkward heroine will overcome her personal foibles to get off with the conventionally handsome, rich hero who is nevertheless human underneath it all. It's not the standardness of the plot – what do they say, there's only seven stories in the world and three of them star Tom Hanks? - but simply that the book is executed in a really stiff, obvious way, where you can almost see the MS Word Airport Novel Template in use.

Players is a good bad book. I doubt it will have any impact outside the Aussie-Rules playing states of Australia, but part of the pleasure of it is that it's so goddamn parochial, so very, very Melbourne. The characters are incredibly obviously based on local celebrities, and if you were listening to 3RRR's Breakfasters program during the time the book was written, you'll be amused to pick up bits of story that were obviously discussed on the program (such as the phrase "going completely otter" as an alternative to going "off-tap" or "ballistic").

The basic plot is not too important, although I bet it went down well with the people who are obviously being parodied. The good guy is Billy Nock, an AFL star on his way out, left over from the days when best and fairest actually meant best and fairest, succumbing to 'old age' (in footy terms, 35) and injury, and host of a low-rating TV show in the olden style (think Lou Richards and Footy Franks). The bad guy is Sam Newman, I mean "Tickets" Thompson, honourably retired champion, host of a blazingly successful TV show, and all-round arsehole. Thompson makes a high-rating living out of humiliating and offending the vulnerable on a show which has less and less to do with footy, to the delight of the fans. The story starts when Thompson headbutts a homeless crazy dude with minimal provocation, and the show's producers move into an increasingly elaborate plot to cover up the assault.

The rest of the story gets frankly weird, but that's not really the point. The attraction is seeing your "favourite" stars given a roasting they firmly deserve. It's funny, extremely easy to read and won't demand much from your brain. Highly recommended. Buy from Readings


Adam said...

Hey, its River Phoenix's birthday today (Tuesday, 23 August 2005).

...mj said...

You should try books that Nick Earls writes - they're well-readable and fun. Start with ZigZag Street and work your way through. (sorry, comment is a bit late, but only just dicoverd your blog on someones link list)