Monday, August 06, 2007

What I've Been Reading

Paprika Paradise by James Jeffrey Esq.

Last wednesday I had the privilege of popping along with the missus to the launch of my good mate Jim's first book, Paprika Paradise, at Gleebooks in Glebe. A fairly solid event, followed by a fairly large amount of booze at the Nag's Head (James Squire, your Amber Ale is quite reasonable, but please go to England for a bit and learn how to make a real one). Jim's first book is something I knew would happen one day, and your's truly is please to report that it's a ripper.

The book concerns Jim's love affair with the Central European Paprika Powerhouse that is Hungary, while retracing the steps of the unlikely coupling of his wild Hungarian Mother and staid English Father. There are laughs and heartache a plenty in this tale which also takes in a fair amount of Hungarian history ancient and modern, the sights and sound of Hungary through Budapest, Pecs, a bagpipe festival and finally topped off with a Nagyi sized helping of familial Maygar madness.

Having spent many hours of mischief with Jim since meeting him in Mr Stedmans English class at Kirawee Highschool last century I had heard a lot of this story before and even witnessed parts of it realtime. Also during it's gestation Jim sent me a few chapters via the wonder of email. Well none of this has taken away from the final published copy I read on the weekend. A great read, full of life, almost as if Jim himself had been transformed into ink and poured into a book. And this from someone who knew what to expect, so for those who buy the book virgin will be in for a hoot I'm sure. Nice work mate. So readers, head out to any good Sydney bookseller and nab yourself one, and if you can't find it try here.

What are two dorks like you doing in a nice place like this? Budapest 2001

15 Days in June by Jesse Fink

Unlike Mr Jeffrey, I have never met Mr Fink, but his book was quite a good read anyway.
This book concerns Australia's qualifying for and playing in last years World Cup in Germany and subsquent preparation (or lack of) for the as-it-turned-out disasterous Asian Cup.

This book caught the mood and feeling from the Socceroos qualifying here in Sydney in November 2005 through to the heartbreak of going out in the second round of the World Cup due to some superbly executed furbo on part of the Azzuri and knuckleheadedness on the part of the Socceroors (there were sharp words in this Australian-British-Itailian household that night). Then it goes on to cover the the build up to the Asian Cup and the Socceroos histrory with it, which I found, against my expectations, to be quite fascinating. It certainly gave quite a bit of context to the generally poor performance of Australia in that tournamnet, but also our unrealistic expectations of the national side in Asia and our ignorance of Asian football itself. It's clear we have a long way to go in that arena. It's quite fascinating but also frustrating following our national side, especially after they appreared to get so much right before and during the world cup, compared top state of limbo we are in now post the dutch master coach Guus Hiddink. When will the FFA appoint a decent international couch?

This book goes a long way to answering or at least providing quite a bit of context for the state of Australian football today. It also reveals just how much of enourmous sport Football is globally and how the politics all too regularly overshadows the game itself. If you follow Australina Football this is required reading. There's also a blog if you want to follow up from the book.


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