Waterstones News Update: David Peace’s New Book
Waterstones news update: on David Peace’s return to the UK to promote his new novel about Brian Clough, he discusses the fate of Leeds United with a Yorkshire Post journalist.
Waterstones News Update
“He was back in England to promote a new novel and I had just read his novel, a fictional account of the turbulent time when Brian Clough led Leeds United, The Damned United. We ended up, somewhat inevitably, in our favourite pub (Whitelock’s) having what I recall as being a slight altercation about Liverpool Football Club.
I can’t remember what the altercation was about, exactly, but I know it had something to do with Bill Shankly.
Reading David’s latest novel, an ode to the man he calls “Saint Bill”, I am pretty sure it must have been about the different ways Shankly and Leeds’s great manager Don Revie are perceived. Red or Dead is, by a country mile, the sports book of 2013 (my own latest Does Your Rabbi Know You’re Here?, now out in paperback, doesn’t qualify because it came out last year!). And this time, one hopes, Peace’s latest book won’t attract the controversy that tainted the reception of The Damned United. For unlike that towering masterpiece, it accentuates the positive and eliminates the negative qualities of a footballing legend. David moved back to West Yorkshire a few years ago – he had been living in Japan, came back home, but has now returned once again East – and every month we would meet at the Queens Hotel, next to Leeds Station, and spend a couple of hours catching up. Like Ed Dunford in his first novel, 1974, he had returned to God’s Own County to find that things had changed. For one thing, while he was away there had been something of a literary renaissance.
As the recent Big Bookend event testified, there has been a boom in literary festivals. At one session I co-presented it was clear that Peace’s work – especially his bleak Red Riding novels – had inspired a new generation of writers, highly influenced by his distinctive brand of Yorkshire Noir. In fact my first book Promised Land: A Northern Love Story, was inspired by a line in The Damned United about the Leeds United board: “Half Gentile, half Jew; a last, lost tribe of self-made Yorkshiremen and Israelites. In search of the promised land; of public recognition, of acceptance and of gratitude.” And Does Your Rabbi… would not have been possible had David not introduced me to his friend Jon Riley at the Head of Steam, a fine Huddersfield pub; it was Jon, who turned out to be editor-in-chief of the Quercus imprint, who came up with the idea. I’ve missed David since he returned to Japan, which is one of the reasons why I agreed to have “a conversation” with him at Leeds Waterstones tonight. The other is that there are a number of questions I’m dying to ask him about his new book.
His latest project – on how Shankly transformed a second division team with a crumbling stadium into a British footballing institution – is far from bleak. It is a straightforward celebration of an inspiring figure. I can’t wait to ask him about the contrast between this positive portrayal of Liverpool and his negative depiction of Revie’s Leeds. True, he’s a Huddersfield Town fan, but it almost feels as if he sees Shanks as an antidote to the great Leeds boss, a man who similarly transformed a struggling club into European giants.
But the most interesting thing about Red or Dead is not its football stories – wonderful as they are – or even its staccato, hypnotically rhythmic prose style – perfected in the Red Riding series and GB84 – which, once again, elevates the narration beyond mere storytelling. It’s the politics. “I have written about corruption,” he explains. “I’ve written about crime, I’ve written about bad men and I’ve written about the demons. But now I’ve had enough of the bad men and the demons. Now I want to write about a good man.” Despite being a Huddersfield Town fan (I’m Leeds, always have been), David, too, is a good man.”
If you are interested in getting Peace’s new book contact Waterstones customer services department by following the link to their contact number http://www.customerservicescontact.co.uk/waterstones-contact-number/. This article was originally sourced from The Yorkshire Evening Post.
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