Stephen Rea, a native of Northern Ireland who moved to New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina leveled the city, will make two appearances in Pasadena today and Tuesday promoting his book “Finn McCool’s Football Club: The Birth, Death and Resurrection of a Pub Soccer Team in the City of the Dead.”
(It’s the story of a Sunday pub team and the eccentric collection of largely British ex-pats that play on it set against the backdrop of the worst natural disaster ever to hit a major American city).
Rea and two ex-Chelsea players will take part in a Q&A session tonight beginning at 8 o’clock at Lucky Baldwin’s, 17 S. Raymond Ave., ahead of Tuesday’s Chelsea-Inter Milan game (Rea is a Chelsea fan). The pub has an excellent beer selection BTW, which if you’ve read Rea’s book was probably a prerequisite for his presence.
On Tuesday Rea will autograph copies of the book beginning at noon at the Fan fest in Rose Bowl Area H before the game (thankfully, given the heat it includes a wine and beer garden).
I’m still making my way through the book between watching Beckham melt down (those boos don’t bother him, huh?) and the match marathon we’ve seen on TV these last few days (I’m on page 243 of 336), so out of fairness I’ll refrain from a full scale review.
But here are a few random thoughts so far:
*This is not a bad summer read, but readers who find racial and ethnic stereotypes, expletive-laden sentences and a general preoccupation with drinking heavily offensive or boorish might want to give this one a miss. Here, for instance is the opening line to Chapter 11: “You cheating f****** c***.” You get the idea.
*This is one of those books that cries out for a separate section to help the reader keep track of the numerous players (many named Stephen) who flit in and out of the team and the story with regularity. I was forever pawing through pages to remind myself who so and so was.
*The book is more than a tad repetitive as we are regaled by tales of the pub team’s (all too similar) games or the author’s (often futile) searches for American bars carrying Northern Ireland games. The book would have been half as long if Rea had just signed up for DirecTV. And there’s about 175 pages of this stuff before the storm actually hits.
*Forgive me this thought given the devastation wrought on the city and its inhabitants, but it was hard to whip up much sympathy for some of these characters given how generally oblivious they are to the scale of the impending natural disaster. For instance, the team’s coach goes on a hours-long bender before the storm hits, is baffled to find the city empty when there’s eventually no where else to drink because everything is shut down and then improbably goes home to bed to ride the storm out by pulling the covers over his head in bed. By the time he’s literally swirling down the street in flood waters, I’m thinking that this guy is the epitome of the law of natural selection. As for Rea himself, you’ve got to wonder about anyone who moves to New Orleans and then writes “New Orleans had hurricanes? It was news to me.”
*All that aside, the book has a certain colorful charm that you would expect set in a place like New Orleans. Here’s an excerpt wherein a Liverpudlian named Adrian explains how he ended up in the city erecting scaffolding:
After a day they said, ‘You’ve never done this before, have you?’ but they were cool and we were the only two white boys on the crew. We were living in the Quarter and they showed us the city and we got second-degree burns working on a hospital roof and I went to a transvestite’s funeral after meeting a guy dressed as a nun and we had a fantastic time.
The hardcover came out earlier this year with the paperback to follow this fall.