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My book of the year for 2011

November 28, 2011

Green Left Weekly asked me to contribute my  book of the year for 2011. This is my choice. If you have a favourite book of 2011, feel free to comment on this post.

A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke by Ronald Reng

Yellow Jersey Press

Gary Speed hung himself on November 27. He was the manager of the Welsh Football team and long term professional player in the English Premier League. The week before German referee, Babak Rafati, slit his wrists in an attempted suicide. Welcome the the world of professional sport.

Robert Enke was all set to become the long term number one goalkeeper for the German national side, when he threw himself in front of a train. This book, written by a friend, painstakingly details the extraordinary and unique pressure faced by professional sportspeople in their day to day lives, how it can ruin and destroys people and how no sport has been active enough in facing the problem, especially professional football.

It is a brutal, sometimes uncomfortable but always honest portrayal of someone suffering clinical depression in all its complexities. Too often writing about depression is too generalised or patronising, this certainly isn’t that.

Sportsperson, whether people are fans or hate sport, are often seen as cartoon characters or robots. The book, though, shows that footballers and sportspeople in general should perhaps be seen as tortured artists, forever straining for a perfection that they will never quite achieve.

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