ANN ARBOR – On July 28, over 100,000 soccer fans will descend on Michigan Stadium for a soccer match between two of the sport’s biggest rivals -- Manchester United and Liverpool -- for what will most likely be the largest crowd ever assembled for a soccer game on U.S. soil. Ann Arbor is one of only five stops for Manchester United in the U.S., the others being Phoenix, San Jose, LA and Miami.
The night before the big event, at 7 p.m., author Gary B. France will present “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of United: An Englishman’s Quest to Remain Connected to ‘His’ Team from the Other Side of The Pond” at Nicola's Books. The book, which has been published by by Ann Arbor-based Fish Out of Water Books, is a humorous and heartwarming story of culture shock and two countries separated by a common language. It details a unique time in history and is not simply about one man’s dedication to soccer and his team.
France, an Englishman and Manchester United fanatic, has lived in Michigan since 1995 and is formerly an Ann Arbor resident currently living in Alpena. Being able to read from his new book in Ann Arbor is a true honor for him.
"I am incredibly excited to return to Ann Arbor and share a few stories from 'Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of United' at Nicola’s Bookstore on the eve of Manchester United’s game against Liverpool at the Big House," France said by email. "Ann Arbor holds some special memories for me, many of which are captured in the book -- none more so than my DJ stint on the 'British Invasion' radio show and, of course, becoming part of a unique early-morning community, gathering inside Conor O’Neill’s after its opening in the late '90s and the lifelong friendships that were forged through our shared passion for the 'beautiful game.'"
Jon Wilson, founder of Fish Out of Water Books, echoed France's passion. "'Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of United' could be my story. It could be the story of any number of soccer-loving expats," Wilson said by email.
"When you emigrate and start anew, you miss your home, your relatives, your friends -- and, if you’re a sports fan -- you miss “your” team. You HAVE to find a way to keep up with your team! In this day and age we are all connected via smart phones and social media -- but, in many ways, we are more isolated than ever. If you wanted to see an English Premier League soccer game 'back in the day,' your only option was to go to the pub. And that’s how many longstanding friendships were forged -- how a community of fans was born. Nowadays, it’s easy to roll out of bed and watch in your pajamas, alone -- a community of one," Wilson said.
He went on to say that “'Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of United' happens to be a book about a Manchester United fan. But it’s about so much more than soccer; it’s about home; it’s about leaving home and adjusting to a new way of life, and it’s about maintaining those important connections to home."
Don't miss this exciting and historic warm-up event at Nicola's, which is sure to delight soccer fans and bookworms alike. Learn more about the reading here and be sure to let us know if you intend to be a part of "the largest crowd in history to watch a soccer game on U.S. soil" in the comments below.
About Gary B. France
France has been a Manchester United fanatic for over 40 years. He has worked as a health care professional since 1987. France has a passion for music, which led him to becoming a radio DJ in Ann Arbor in the mid-'90s, with his Saturday morning show “The British Invasion.” An avid writer, France has always maintained a diary to reflect on his journey. He has turned many of these recollections into “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of United,” a twenty-year labor of love. Visit garybfrance.com to learn more about his work.
About Fish Out of Water Books
Fish Out of Water Books was founded in 2016 by Jon Wilson. Jon has worked in publishing for almost 30 years, initially in his hometown of Manchester, England and since 1994 in Ann Arbor. Jon and his wife, Laurie, have both experienced fish out of water syndrome. Two people raised in northern cities of their respective countries, they soon found “two countries divided by a common language” with Laurie moving from Michigan in 1988 to live in Manchester, England for five years and Jon moving with Laurie from Manchester to Michigan in 1993. An early impetus for Fish Out of Water Books came from a book idea they have about growing up in the 1970s and 80s on opposite sides of the Pond with music and popular culture as the main backdrop. Their own fish out of water story idea led them to reflect on the vast range of fish out of water stories there must be out there . . . and the rest, as they say, is history.
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