God is Round | Juan Villoro

If you flip the book over and peruse the back cover, one of the blurb recommendations from a fella named Carlos Fuentes says “If you want to talk about soccer, go talk to Juan Villoro.” It’s sound advice. That being said, no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to articulate your views, thoughts, and ideas as poetically, metaphorically, or abstractly engaging as Villoro can. Every topic is painted on the page, sculpted to give every distinct subject in football a parallel to some sort of deeper meaning. He’s sewn matters in football to every day life. This isn’t a book of stats and numbers. This one is for the right-brained. This is a book for the imaginative, the thinkers.

Unlike other books we’ve chosen to review for TAE, this book doesn’t work along the lines of a singular thesis or subject. It’s a collection of football essays on topics ranging everywhere from ticket vendors to Maradona. As an American reading the work of a Mexican football writer, I enjoyed a lot of anecdotes within God is Round from realms of the game I’ve barely explored, particularly the Mexican domestic league and its cast of colorful characters. I believe the bulk English-speaking American fans that don’t have ties to our neighbors from the south are drawn to football across the Atlantic instead, primarily the Premier League in England due to the language, because Europe houses some of the perceived biggest clubs in the world. And it’s not as if the author doesn’t discuss those arenas of the game, no. In my opinion Villoro gave me that European-based kind of material and something new. I embraced that.

Now, if you’re a Lionel Messi guy, then chances are you might be a Juan Villoro guy too. Though, the most extensive chapter of the book is probably about Diego Armando Maradona, Villoro dedicates 26 pages near the end of his work to Messi. Whereas the chapter immediately preceding, dedicated to rival Cristiano Ronaldo, is only seven pages and change, most of which portrays the Portuguese as the self-consumed, arrogant figurehead many have already made up their minds about. Regardless, to read God is Round without interpreting the text for yourself would be a serious wrong-doing. Even if you agree with nothing, then at least the author’s words can generate discussion ideas to bounce of your pals. Villoro is a real football man. Hear him out.