Having recently reviewed John Virgo’s book regarding Alex Higgins, I have since managed to find the time in between China Open matches to cast my eye through Stuart Pettman’s recently released book.
As long-term readers will be aware, during the 2009/10 season we published a series of extracts from the book over here at the blog (see an example here), and if you enjoyed reading those then the chances are that you will enjoy reading the finished article.
As Stuart himself makes clear from the off, the book perhaps differs from the norm as it is not an autobiography as such. Indeed this is probably just as well as without wanting to sound disrespectful, Stuart’s achievements during his career would have struggled to justify that.
Instead it follows his journey throughout the 2009/10 season, both looking at his exploits both on the professional circuit and during tournaments in Thailand, as well as what is going on back at his club the Elite in Preston.
Indeed that is probably one of the two most striking aspects of the book, reading Stuart’s view on playing at the Crucible and playing Ronnie O’Sullivan in China, compared to his experiences playing the likes of Pramual Chaiyapiwat in what he describes as the attic of a shopping centre in Thailand.
We have all read the books of former world champions describing their rise through the snooker rankings to the top of the game, but this does come from a different angle which is refreshing to see. It is not necessarily better, indeed I enjoyed Graeme Dott’s book too, but it is not worse either and good to see someone not only try something different, but execute it successfully.
For me though the other most striking thing about the book is the sharp humour that underpins each chapter. For example there is one passage (that I think was in one of the extracts actually), where he discusses the hypothetical situation of a referee penalising a player for conceding a frame early by awarding that frame to their opponent and amusingly points out the flaw in that logic in the best way possible!
The biggest illustration of that humour though probably comes from the foreword as having passed the book to a few people at the World Championship qualifiers recently, I noted that everyone who took a look did raise a smile when reading it.
In terms of content, one of the most interesting aspects for me personally as a snooker fan was Stuart’s take on last summer’s Barry Hearn v John Davison takeover battle. Discussing his thoughts on the choice from the point of view of a player ranked outside of the top 32, it is interesting to read which way he voted and the reasoning behind that, as well as who he voted for back when the Altium bid was on the table a decade ago.
Other insights into the professional world include his views on the now axed Pro Challenge Series, as well as the Players Tour Championship and why his experience in the latter did not leave him clamouring for more. Also, his thoughts on his less than enjoyable trips to the Crucible are also particularly interesting, though perhaps that is just the sadist in me.
Any negatives? Even sitting here with my impartial hat on I would be hard pressed to single out any particular aspect of the book for criticism. The book is notably well-written and to my knowledge factually accurate which is a testament to the research and work that has gone into it from both Stuart himself and his friend Graeme Kay. If I were to nitpick, the omission of a selection of photos somewhere inside the book might distress some, but that is probably about it.
So how to summarise?
While Stuart might not exactly be a household name, that certainly does not mean that his views are not worth reading and as already mentioned, for me it is certainly interesting to read about life on the main tour from a different point of view to those at the very top of the game. Furthermore as already stated, the book is very well-written and manages to be both informative and entertaining at the same time.
All in all then, if you have an interest in snooker and want to read something written by snooker people, for snooker people, then this is certainly worth picking up.
The book retails for £8.99 plus postage and packaging and can be bought from Waterstones (Preston), the Elite Club or this very site by clicking here.
You can read Stuart’s interview with PSB earlier in the month here as well as his interview with the Lancashire Evening Post here.