A-Z of Foul and Fair: A

A-Z of Foul and Fair: A

10 days ago

A is for Arrested. Foul and Fair opens with a flash-forward. The main character, James, is in a prison cell and musing on what has brought him to that point. Of course, the reader doesn’t know at this stage what has brought him there, but when the action shifts back to a deliberately vague ‘several months earlier’, I wanted the knowledge of James’ future incarceration to colour the unfolding action, to add to the sense of jeopardy as he negotiates his way through a difficult season, both on and off the pitch.

There are many transgressions, of one kind or another, during the course of the book. The question of how to balance doing the right thing with getting the right result – by any means necessary – is a running theme throughout, and a lot of lines get crossed. James has plenty of time to reflect on that issue (not least when he’s locked up in the opening flash-forward), and I hope that the book will make readers think too.

I’m a big fan of the Coen Brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis, which begins with a similar flash-forward scene. I read an interview when the film was newly released where one of the Coen’s described that scene as a ‘folk-song opening’. He was referring to the musical trope of the first verse being repeated towards the end of the song, with the listener now able to read new meanings into it compared to the first time round. When the narrative of Foul and Fair winds its way back to that opening scene, I think that readers will have a very different appreciation of James’ situation. Although the two passages mirror one another, with all the words from the first repeated second time around, they paint a very different picture in the light of all that has gone before. Then again, don’t take my word for that – go and read the book for yourself to make sure I'm playing fair on this one.

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