Not Afraid Of Repetition: David Peace’s Red Or Dead Reviewed

“David Peace is not afraid of repetition. Repetition underpins and underscores all of his work: names and phrases, sentence constructions, entire paragraphs, they loop and swirl, come back and back and back again. It is repetition that gives his books their staccato rhythms, their hypnotic, insistent force. He uses repetition better than any other writer currently at work. But in the wake of The Damned Utd – Peace’s bestselling novel, and later successful film, of Brian Clough’s catastrophic time as manager of Leeds United Football Club – Red or Dead could seem a repetition in itself. It is, after all, another novel about football. It is another novel set in that nostalgia honey-trap between the nineteen-fifties and nineteen-eighties. And it is another novel to focus on an iconic football manager – Bill Shankly, a figure perhaps even more beloved than the mercurial Clough.” The Quietus

Red or Dead by David Peace: From football to the battle against age, the war against death
“Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. They’re the first three words of Red or Dead and repetition is soon established as both a theme and a style. The first scene depicts an unnamed man entering an office and confessing to ‘a voice from the shadows’ that ‘the strain had proved too much’. In context, it seems clear that the man is Phil Taylor, the manager whose resignation in 1959 led to the appointment of Bill Shankly as manager of Liverpool and the transformation of the football club over the next 15 years from second-flight also-rans into giants. Yet the archetypal nature of the description suggests that this is something universal, that as one man feels the strain another rises to take his place, that the cycle turns as inevitably as one season follows another.” New Statesman – Jonathan Wilson

A matter of life and death
“Here is David Peace, on his publisher’s website, explaining why he wrote his new novel Red or Dead: ‘I have written about corruption, I’ve written about crime, I’ve written about bad men and I’ve written about the demons. But now I’ve had enough of the bad men and the demons. Now I want to write about a good man. And a saint. A Red Saint. Bill Shankly was not just a great football manager. Bill Shankly was one of the greatest men who ever lived.’ This fictional biography, written in that same repetitive prose for more than 700 pages, does indeed portray the legendary Liverpool manager as a saint. More’s the pity for the long-suffering reader. … Red or Dead seems intended as his magnum opus – the kind of big book a big novelist produces mid-career. It tackles a great figure, Shankly, who has been fading into myth.” FT – Simon Kuper

Review: Red or Dead, By David Peace
“Every time I finish a David Peace novel I feel like I’ve gone a few rounds in the ring with a title contender. I can’t think of another British novelist who writes with as much conviction, dedication and sheer bloody-mindedness as Peace, whether it’s the Red Riding Quartet based on the Yorkshire Ripper, his miners’ strike novel GB84, his Japan-set fiction, or his best known work, The Damned United, detailing Brian Clough’s time at Leeds United.” Independent

amazon: Red or Dead, David Peace

Channel4: Peace on Shankly’s ‘love affair’ with Liverpool (Video)

YouTube: Red or Dead by David Peace – An extract

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