Saturday, September 02, 2006

My Story So Far

The good people of Harper Collins (tagline: Publishers of Agatha Christie) have brought us the premier book release of the fall season.

In a taut 311 pages we are offered, if the publicists are to be believed, "A journey of a lifetime squeezed into a mere twenty years."

The journey is Wayne Rooney's, and by Nick Gleenslade's account in the Guardian it features the news that:

  • Rooney's first date with girlfriend Coleen McLoughlin was to see Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me ("Wayne loved it, Coleen wasn't quite so amused")

  • "The day before a big match, he loves nothing more than to sing along to Oliver! while receiving a massage" (this explains a lot)

  • Continuing in the massage vein, the Liverpool massage parlour stories were true

  • Rooney's off-time "consists of watching Corrie (Coronation Street) and EastEnders (Vote Now! Do you think Stacey's ready to be a mum?) while enjoying a takeaway with Coleen"
Ghostwriter Hunter Davies offers a glimpse into the creative process that led to these revelations:
I was very lucky with Wayne. I had eight long weekly sessions with him, of three hours each, in his lovely home. His mobile was off and he gave his total attention. Then from Germany, I had several 45-minute phone calls. Like most lads of 20, especially one who is at his most fluent on the pitch, things often had to be coaxed out of him, but he didn't get bored, ratty or refuse. Every question, even the most personal, was answered.
But the first, last and only word should go to Marina Hyde, whose satirical review in the Guardian (Rooney Vol I: a heartbreaking work of staggering genius) is magnificent. Here's a teaser:
It may be wildly presumptuous, with only phase one of his five-volume autobiography currently available for public consumption, but one suspects Wayne Rooney's literary genius may remain critically misunderstood during his own lifetime. ...what Rooney has perpetrated in My Story So Far, with the lightest of steers from his ghostwriter Hunter Davies, is nothing less than an elaborate satire on the entire genre of football autobiographies. The self-justifying tedium, the vast emptiness, the sheer teeth-grinding banality of this particular art form is the striker's target, and as usual - if we may permit ourselves a lapse into the wordplay beloved of lesser authors - he doesn't miss.

Consider his description, in the Mail on Sunday's serialisation of the book, of the occasion on which he first donned his country's shirt, which might be regarded as the keystone in the story arc of this first volume.

"My own England debut, yeah, that was good. I'll always remember it. And my Everton debut, that was good too. . ."

His phrasing may be economical, yes, but paradoxically it is so rich one almost fancies oneself at the touchline on those auspicious days, or perhaps in the tunnel as this gauche young pitbull prepared to take his first faltering steps on the journey to wherever it is he's going.

Not that his clipped, affectless style does not give way occasionally to verbose flights of fancy. Indeed, where the England debut can clearly be communicated in sparse measure, there are times when the reader may feel they need rather more information in order to be adequately transported into the experience, and the description of the games room at the England team's World Cup hotel is one of those. Rooney does not disappoint.

"It was enormous," he confides, "with plenty of things to do, such as table tennis, snooker, and lots of video games and stuff. It was a bit like an amusement arcade. I liked the simulated golf game best." In contrast, the emotional passages require only the most delicate glossing. "On our day off, I went into town to meet Coleen. We had a walk about, and she gave me a present. It was a Rolex watch. On the back of it, she'd got it engraved: 'To Wayne, Good Luck in the World Cup, Love Coleen.' So that was nice."...

Time and again you wonder whether at £17.99, My Story So Far is not criminally underpriced...


At 2:05 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

The good people of Harper Collins (tagline: Publishers of Agatha Christie) have brought us the premier book release of the fall season.

Your particular brand of sarcasm always makes me smile.


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