Pocket Money, by Gordon Burn

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The Independent Culture

As this year's snooker World Championship enters its second week, it does so without Dennis Taylor (long retired) and Steve Davis (knocked out in the first round). Scroll back 23 years, though, and 18.5 million viewers watched that pair's epic 18-17 final, decided on the final black past midnight. Gordon Burn spent the following year with snooker's travelling circus, and his reissued account of a game at what turned out to be its zenith remains acutely observed and beautifully written. At that time, says Clive Everton in an up-to-date postscript tinged with regret at what might have been, "snooker was on honeymoon with the world". The characters – there seemed to be far more then than now – and sheer gusto of the era leap off the page, though Burn also charts the first whiffs of mismanagement that were to become a mighty pong. His latest book is titled 'Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel'; if it's half as good as this factual chronicle of yesteryear, it will be a classic.

Published by Faber in paperback, £9.99