Ben Hampton made his reputation as a cultural memoirist chronicling a revealing brand of 70s and 80s British football obsession. He cemented his place in the book world with one highly-acclaimed piece of pop fiction after another, each tackling ever more weighty aspects of the human condition. Both in the UK and points abroad, Ben Hampton is a beloved cultural icon.
Now, though, by embarking on an ill-advised biography of a long-forgotten, mediocre footballer, Ben must confront the style that helped make him a household name. But his fear of repeating himself, and his inability to resist accompanying readers on the emotional journey that results from a Ben Hampton piece of fiction, leads the famous author and regular bloke off-piste to a place where sport and love wrangle for supremacy.
At the peak of his literary powers and at a personally-acceptable level of easygoing celebrity, Ben flirts with surrendering his well-deserved reputation, becoming a laughing stock, and being invited onto chat shows for all the wrong reasons.
Is the end result a piece of middlebrow fiction too deep in the weeds of professional football? Or is it a football book with far too much uncomfortable sexual energy? Every stakeholder in the publishing industry has an opinion on what a Ben Hampton book should be.
In this intelligent, ironic and moving debut novel, endearing and hilarious characters taste the uncompromising highs and lows of relationships, career choice and the writing life.