The Nolympics: One Man's Struggle Against Sporting Hysteria by Nicholas Lezard

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The Nolympics: One Man's Struggle Against Sporting Hysteria by Nicholas Lezard

Category: Politics and Society
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Susmita Chatto
Reviewed by Susmita Chatto
Summary: A must-read for anyone who was affected by the Olympics in any way!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: September 2012
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978-0718197612

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Confession: I was always going to be attracted to this book. I was planning for the Olympics since London won them – planning my escape, that is. And to add insult to athletics-hysteria induced injury, I then fell ill, missed my holiday, couldn’t get the money back on insurance, and found the predicted horrifically heaving horror of a city to be a complete myth. So after losing money on a holiday that I planned for years and didn’t need to be on anyway, I thought reading this would be a form of therapy for my anger!

But the book is also essential reading for anyone who loved the Olympics. If you were paying close attention the sports, you will find those stories told here too, as well as a fascinating collection of cultural observations through the amazing adventure that was in fact just a few weeks long. The book is acutely observed, side-splittingly funny and full of all the important anecdotes of the period; you won’t remember how many there were until you read this. Illustrations by David Shrigley provide further nudges to remember key moments of the time.

Lezard begins with his feelings on sport and nationalism, many of which had me laughing out loud on the Tube. The book then takes a diary format, and relives the vital moments of each day. As well as reminding us of incidents like Boris Johnson being suspended from a zip wire, reports of cabbies driving around aimlessly all day and empty shops and restaurants, he also looks at some sporting facts that I would not have known without the aid of this book. For example, he assesses the technical aspects of which lane a swimmer might find themselves competing in and ponders the rules in events like team cycling. And if he can make those interesting for me, he can do that for anyone.

He also takes us through the relevant media for the day, reliving the difference in reporting of daily newspapers but also reminding us of the general atmosphere of hysteria. I too was struck by the front pages that featured no copy whatsoever, and by the complete lack of non-Olympic news in many of the early pages of all the newspapers. Nor has Lezard forgotten the contribution of commenters on newspaper articles; of particular relevance when looking at the opening and closing ceremonies. And of course, the contribution of British hopefuls is also assessed, with observations on all of our athletes.

Lezard has managed to simultaneously make fun of this major event while also putting his finger on exactly why it made so many people so excited. It’s a journey that will put a smile on the face of anyone who was bored to tears by it, and also on the face of anyone who loved every minute of it. It’s not just an achievement in comic writing but also in cultural observation. A great Christmas gift for anyone who was anywhere near the UK during the 2012 Olympics.

If you enjoyed Clare Balding as a presenter at the Olympics you migh also enjoy her book My Animals and Other Family.

Buy The Nolympics: One Man's Struggle Against Sporting Hysteria by Nicholas Lezard at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Nolympics: One Man's Struggle Against Sporting Hysteria by Nicholas Lezard at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Nolympics: One Man's Struggle Against Sporting Hysteria by Nicholas Lezard at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Nolympics: One Man's Struggle Against Sporting Hysteria by Nicholas Lezard at Amazon.com.


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