French and Spanish Cricket
Author: Mike Kelleher
Publisher: Exposure Publishing
Rating: 2.5 stars
By Stuart Wark
07 Feb 2008
Bob Hope, when performing a stand up comedy routine was famous for putting in as many one liners as possible in a two minute set. The author of this book Mike Kelleher has attempted a similar thing by seemingly trying to put in as many one liners per page as possible.
I am sure I could not stomach a two hour set by Mr Hope and I was certainly feeling a little queasy during parts of French and Spanish Cricket.
Imagine a collaboration between Benny Hill, Clive James and Thomas Wolfe, and then imagine that none of the authors perused the others proofs, and you will have some idea of this book.
Funny in places (although often lewd), witty in places (although often confusing) and articulate in places (although often crass).
Although frequently entertaining and amusing (I laughed out loud on a number of occasions), the author simply seemed to be trying too hard, and seemed to regularly lose the thread of his narrative. He also had an annoying habit of neologising.
I must admit to becoming discombobulated on a number of occasions, I think the reason for this is that the book is very 'English' with constant references to TV shows, personalities and products that I have never heard of, this led to a fair amount of jejune on my part.
I must admit that I was expecting a lot more cricket than was included in the book, maybe because of the title, but I was disappointed in the end with the minimal coverage. This was unfortunate because when Mike Kelleher did mention the game he displayed a great amount of knowledge of the intricacies and history of cricket.
So even if I was knee deep in excrement with Salvador Dali, Henry Blofeld and the very Devil himself, this book would still not be my cup of tea.
If you want to know what the hell I am on about in the above you will have to read French and Spanish Cricket.
Although I have been a little tough on it you could certainly do a lot worse.
Johannes Gutenberg, a German goldsmith, is credited with inventing the movable type printing in around 1439. This invention was, in a good part, responsible for the development of mass produced books and written media. Naturally, whenever there is a good idea, commercial opportunities arise and over the following centuries number of publishing houses quickly established themselves. The purpose of these publishing houses is to identify authors and books that have sufficient merit to be profitable.
Unfortunately, everyone thinks that they are a great undiscovered author and that their book should be published. The reality is that very few people are successful in getting a mainstream publisher to even consider their work. And this is where the recent phenomenon of self-publication has taken off. Nowadays, getting a book published is as simply as uploading your PDF file to a self-publishing site such as Diggory Press in England and waiting for the hard copy to be returned (coincidently whilst your bank account diminishes).
French and Spanish Cricket
is written by Mike Kelleher and published by Diggory Press. Kelleher describes the book as a "humorous autobiographically directed reflection on a trip to Spain through France that coincided with the England v South Africa Cricket Test Series in 2003"
I have a wide spread of interests and enjoy reading books of all genres. It quickly became apparent that this was not a 'cricket' book as such. It was more of a travel journal with the 2003 Test series serving as a counterpoint. The author details the trip across western Europe with his wife whilst diverging onto any topic that takes his fancy.
The underlying theme of cricket seems very much secondary to the other topics of discussion. These deviations include the art of egg blowing, exploding sea-gulls, the joys of phrase books, and lots of school-boy sexual innuendo.
The author is clearly a passionate and wholehearted individual about life and cricket. He describes his trip with great enthusiasm, and attempted humour. I must be honest, though, and admit that I did not find the book at all funny. Also, Kelleher's writing style is very hard to read. I struggled to get into the story, and kept putting the book down to do something else, which is very unlike me.
As an example of the author's writing, I picked the following sentences at complete random (I let the book fall open (to page 63), closed my eyes and stuck my finger onto the page);
"For those getting all steamed up with the mystery and suspended animation of what is being on not being described, I would recommend reading the version written in Spanish, although read it alone as a watched kettle never boils. Better still get someone to sing it to you in the operatic style. It will sound terrific like those three fivers."
Whilst presenting that example out of context is perhaps unfair to the author (he was describing a phrase book - I think), the grammatical problems and lack of fluency are indicative of the rest of the book.
There are definitely some significant advantages to having an experienced editor at a publishing company review your work to prevent simple mistakes ending up in the final text. The spell checker in Microsoft Word is great, and thankfully this book is not strewn with typographical errors, but even the money of Bill Gates can't overcome the inherent literary limitations of the writer.
In general terms, I am supportive of the concept of self-publication. It allows potential authors who were rejected by the mainstream companies to get their manuscript printed for widespread consumption. Along the way, it is hoped that some good writers are uncovered who would have otherwise remained unknown. However, it does also mean that there is a category of books that never should have been published, and which are now reaching the marketplace.
Sadly, I have to conclude that French and Spanish Cricket
fits this classification. It is not the worst book ever published, but it has little to recommend it. Hopefully Kelleher can learn from this first experience and continue to develop his writing skills, as his passion and zest for life are clear.
All authors have to begin somewhere, and over time develop their skills.
Overall, it isn't particularly well written, not overly humorous, and seems to lack a clear direction. For cricket lovers, the sporting content is not significant enough to overcome these major flaws to make it a recommended read. Two stars.