RODGE Glass's new novel Bring Me The Head Of Ryan Giggs follows United's least successful player, who's gay, and has an obsession with Giggs.
Writer Will Self has described the book as 'A complex and moving portrayal of obsession, football and heroes with boots of clay.'
In our disparate modern world where you might have many jobs, several marriages and live in several different countries over a lifetime, it’s quite possible that your football team may be the only thing you follow your entire life.
Rodge Glass says he chose this topic for his book because he had always wanted to write about United but didn't feel he was ready before.
His first two novels were Manchester based too and they dealt with people who don't have anything to believe in any more.
“What do you do when your religion, class identity, work identity and national identity have all floated away? I wanted to approach that in a new way. In my other books, No Fireworks and Hope for Newborns, there was a void there for the central characters. In this book, the void is filled with sport. In some ways that has replaced religion, particularly in Manchester.
"So I wanted to look at what that has done to our society. In our disparate modern world where you might have many jobs, several marriages and live in several different countries for periods at a time, it’s quite possible that your football team may be the only thing you follow your entire life. I'm interested in what people give up for that, for a football club that doesn't even know you're there."
The inspiration for the book came partly from Rodge's own family who are United fans and have had season tickets to Old Trafford for decades. He was always the least obsessed in football in the family, even though he was interested. He was more fascinated in observing the behaviour of the fans and players rather than participating.
“As a kid it was interesting to me to see how people behaved differently when following the game. That's not just about being at the match, it's about how it affects the lives of people who dedicate themselves to it entirely."
There´s actually quite a lot of anti-United stuff in the book as well as United love, so it's not just for United fans at all. My dream is for a City fan to enjoy the book.
The author chose Ryan Giggs for his book because he felt Giggs is the most successful current football player around and the idea was for the hero, Mikey Wilson, in his book to be the least successful player ever.
He plays once, gets injured and never plays again for United, but he always follows the team.
“I wanted someone who could have played with the him. Giggs represents the absolute height of success in football, he’s been so consistent, one of the few players who crosses three decades in the game. He also lets me flash back and forward in the book, so in the 90s, Giggs is playing and in the present Giggs is still playing."
Although Rodge Glass wrote the book before Giggs' recent scandals he thinks they make the book spicier.
“In our 24 hour, glitzy, cash rich Premiership, we ask a lot from our footballing gods. And we don’t like it if they don’t conform to our idea of how a god should behave. That’s why the Giggs' scandal was so explosive. Because before that he was supposed to be the last gentleman of the game.”
Rodge Glass claims he doesn't share his hero's obsession with Ryan Giggs although he admits to being interested in him, especially in the recent years. “But I hope I never go as far as my character does in obsessions. If I do, please, someone arrest me.”
The author wants his book to make people laugh, but to also think about the effect football has on our culture.
He feels there have been too many renderings of sport in literature that gloss over anything uncomfortable happening. “But in an age of huge corporate machines, massive salaries, exhaustive coverage, also one with major racism and homophobia problems in the game, that’s too cosy. Which is why I wanted my main character to be someone who did truly love the team, who lived for it, but also felt let down by it.”
When asked about who the book is aimed for Rodge said that it´s not only supposed to be for United fans but it is saying something about Manchester.
He is from the city himself and hopes that as many Mancunians as possible read his book. He says his books all involve families falling apart and so his book should be for anybody who could relate to that, even those not interested in football.
“There's a lot of anti-United stuff in the book as well as United love, so it's not just for United fans. My dream is for a City fan to enjoy the book.”
Rodge Glass's Bring Me The Head Of Ryan Giggs book launch will be at Waterstone's on Deansgate on 11 April, starting at 6:30pm and hosted by the Bad Language Collective. It´s open to all, invites and all details are available at: http://rodgeglass.com/.
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