All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Game Day by Miriam Sved

on February 10, 2015

Game DayGame Day
Miriam Sved
Pan Macmillan AUS
2014, 288p
Read from my local library

Blurb {courtesy of the publisher/Goodreads}: The new draft pick, the tired has-been, the up-and-comer, the might-have-been. The talent scout, the coach on the edge, the beleaguered umpire, the concerned medic. The number-one fan, the lifetime members, the desperate gamblers. The footballers’ mums, the WAGs, the groupies. The tags, the rivals, the sledging. The pressure. Mick Reece and Jake Dooley, best mates since childhood, begin their first professional season playing AFL with little notion of what they’re getting into: the complexity of the beast that the game must feed.

In Game Day, Miriam Sved brings this beast into the light over the course of one season of Aussie Rules. What unfolds is a deeply insightful novel about the pathology of an AFL club, its players and its fans. Revelling in their battles, their victories and their relentless interdependence, Game Day asks whether what unites the true believers is stronger than what divides them, and if love of the game can transcend our flaws and imperfections to result in something beautiful.

Sved’s debut novel is a poignant and clear-eyed exploration of what sport means for Australians, and the intensity with which we pursue and cherish it.

In the grand scheme of things, I’m a recent convert to AFL. I grew up in northern NSW where it wasn’t really a thing. There rugby league mostly ruled the boys that played sport but to be honest, even that wasn’t a huge deal. Then I moved to Victoria, the home of the AFL in 2006 and thought that I’d better sort myself out. Having been born in Sydney, it was a no brainer – I was of course going to follow the Sydney Swans. They were also the winners of the 2005 Grand Final, their first in 70+ years. That success had helped begin putting AFL a little more prominently on the map in NSW. They made the Grand Final again in 2006 and lost. A one point agonising loss. By then I was hooked on my new loves and in 2012 when they made the Grand Final again and won, I may have been crying when the siren sounded. Maybe. They also made the Grand Final last year but to be honest, the less said about that the better.

So when I heard about this book late last year I really wanted to read it, simply because I haven’t read too many books centered around AFL (although there are a few out there) and I was curious. It also ties in very neatly with one of my challenges, the Eclectic Reader Challenge, which has a category of sports. I didn’t want to find a biography or memoir because I figured there’d be lots of those, instead I wanted to try and find something a bit different. I don’t read much (ok, any) sports fiction really. I’m not even aware of how much is out there and given this was Australian as well, about a game that’s very much a part of the country’s culture in many places, it seemed a great choice.

What is intriguing about this book is also in a way, it’s greatest weakness. It chooses a lot of points of view and some of them are very interesting and ones you might not always consider when thinking about AFL, such as the umpire and the medic. As well as those, there’s the rookie, the has-been, the coach under pressure, etc. Such a wide array of points of view in some ways, gives a really big picture and I especially liked the chapter from the point of view of the mother of one of the rookies. However, the book also skips forward a lot, beginning with pre-season and then jumping several weeks at a time in order to conclude at the Big Dance, aka the Grand Final. Because of this, you don’t really get an in depth picture of the season and none of the characters particularly end up fleshed out as well as I would’ve liked. There are glimpses but just when you’re getting into a chapter and a character, it ends and the focus is on someone new. It leaves things hanging at times – results, on-field incidents etc which are cleared up in a brief sentence later on but in a way that somehow seems to lessen the impact on the reader. Because I’m interested in the sport, I wanted to get to know the team and experience their season with them. Instead huge chunks of it are missing which does make it difficult to really connect with anyone.

Game Day was an interesting read and I did enjoy it despite a few frustrations with it that it didn’t delve deep enough into the components of the game and those that are involved. I appreciated some of the more unusual points of view but there were jumps in time that made the story a bit jerky and not quite as smooth as it could’ve been. It was good to see some Australian fiction tackling one of our premier sports but I think the opportunity was there to go deeper, especially into player behaviour.

6/10

Book #29 of 2015

aww-badge-2015

Game Day is book #9 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2015

eclecticreader15

Game Day is also the first book completed for the Eclectic Reader Challenge 2015.

  1. Retellings (of fairytale, legends or myth)
  2. A book set in a country starting with the letter S (eg. Sweden, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Slovakia)
  3. PI Crime (fiction featuring a private investigator)
  4. A novel published before you were born
  5. Contemporary romance
  6. Fiction for foodies (fiction featuring food/food related business)
  7. Microhistory (Non Fiction)
  8. Science Fiction set in space
  9. Sports (Fiction or Non fiction)
  10. Featuring diversity
  11. Epistolary Fiction (fiction written in the format of letters/emails/diary entries)
  12. Middle Grade/YA Adventure
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3 responses to “Review: Game Day by Miriam Sved

  1. Kate W says:

    I agree with you – some of the stories were fantastic, others not so interesting.

  2. A shame you didnt enjoy it as much as you hoped, but thanks for sharing your Eclectic Reader challenge review.

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